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EU’s Data-Protection Reform Should Inspire U.S., Reding Says

European Union reforms of 16-year-old data-protection rules should inspire the U.S. to strengthen its privacy regime, the EU’s justice chief said.

The EU data privacy reforms, which the European Commission plans to present by the end of next month, should be “an inspiration for changes in the U.S. and elsewhere,” EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said today. Referring to cloud companies that lure clients by promising to protect their data from the U.S. government, she urged for the free flow of information.

“I do encourage cloud computing centers in Europe. We need more innovation, more research and more investment in the ICT industry,” Reding said in prepared remarks for a speech in Brussels. “But this cannot be the only solution. We need free flow of data between our continents. It doesn’t make much sense for us to retreat from each other.”

Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Systems information technology unit is pushing regulators to introduce a certificate for German or European cloud operators to help companies shield data from U.S. government access through the Patriot Act. Some of the surveillance powers of the act, passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, have been opposed by lawmakers and outside groups, including civil liberties activists.

Reding said she was “worried” that plans in the U.S. to create a self-regulation regime for companies collecting data “will not be sufficient to achieve full interoperability between the EU and U.S.”

The commissioner last year proposed an overhaul of the EU’s 16-year-old data-protection policies to address online advertising and social-networking sites. The bill, which the EU regulator will formally propose by the end of January, will include stricter sanctions and equip national data-protection authorities with powers to levy administrative sanctions of as much as 1 million euros ($1.3 million), or 5 percent of a company’s annual sales, according to the latest draft, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.

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