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EU plans tougher data collection, e-waste rules

updated 05:05 pm EST, Sun January 22, 2012

EU OKs e-waste takeback and toughens data policy

The European Union moved forward on two key policy changes to potentially improve technology adoption. European Commission VP Vivane Reding in a speech at the DLD conference on Sunday said the EU would have tougher rules on data collection as of January 25, according to Reuters. Companies would be required to tell officials as soon as data was known to have been misused or stolen, and they would have to give users a right to export, import, and completely wipe their information.

If a company broke the rules, it could be fined one percent of its yearly, worldwide revenue along with being made to change its policies if it wanted to keep doing business in Europe.

The policies could see the EU clash with some technology companies' attitudes towards data. Facebook would be the most likely to object, since it has often been reluctant to give ways to export information to a third-party site and relies on a proprietary approach that makes its code difficult to translate. Google has made portability important to Google+, but it might also have to give more control over data collected in other services and on Android.

In more immediate plans, the EU on Thursday stated that it now required most electronics stores to take back e-waste. The Parliament-mandated rule identified by PCWorld determines that any store larger than 400 square meters (4,305 square feet) has to accept and process the disposal or recycling of cameras, cellphones, notebooks, and other portable electronics without attaching fees or requiring that they buy something new.

The measure is intended to boost the amount of used electronics properly taken out of the system by about five times its current level as of 2020, or about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) per capita. About 85 percent should be treated, it said. A side element of the law also bars companies from exporting devices under warranty to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries if they're functional and were properly sent in.

E-waste has become a mounting problem. Even with significant efforts to clean up technology, many electronics still have toxic materials or have parts that should be recycled. Instead, much of it is exported wholesale to Africa or China, where locals risk their health extracting materials from the leftover parts.

by MacNN Staff



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