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Web law offers 'right to be forgotten' online

Sky News logo Sky News 07/08/2017
With limits removed, internet service providers will be able to sell customers’ personal data © Getty With limits removed, internet service providers will be able to sell customers’ personal data

Social media firms will have to erase information on individuals when asked under laws allowing people the "right to be forgotten" online.

The Data Protection Bill will make it simpler for people to control how companies use their personal details.

The information watchdog has been given extra powers to issue huge fines to companies who fail to comply with the privacy law.

The powers mean individuals can ask social media platforms to delete information they posted when they were children.

The bill will also require people to give explicit consent for their personal information to be collected online.

Instead of people ticking a box to not receive marketing emails, they will now need to "opt-in" and give explicit consent for contact.

The legislation will:

:: Allow people to ask for their personal data held by companies to be erased.

:: Enable parents to give consent for their child's data to be used.

:: Expand the definition of personal data to include internet cookies and IP addresses.

:: Make it easier and free for people to get organisations to reveal the personal data it holds on them.

:: Create new criminal offences to deter companies from creating situations where someone can be identified from anonymised data.

Maximum fines for contraventions will increase from £0.5m to £17m, or 4% of a firm's global turnover, whichever is higher.

The fines for the largest companies - such as Google and Facebook - who use individuals' data to sell adverts, could stretch to billions.

Neil Brown, a solicitor at Decoded Legal, a law firm specialising in digital laws, told Sky News "it was unlikely that the regulator will go anywhere near the top level very quickly".

"Other corrective powers - including the power to ban a company from processing data - are likely to be the regulator's first port of call," Mr Brown said.

Elizabeth Denham, who heads the Information Commissioner's Office, said she was pleased the Government recognised the importance of data protection.

The bill, which was announced in the Queen's Speech, will be introduced in Parliament when MPs and peers return from the summer break in September.

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