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EU Parliament calls for internet rights charter

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Internet users should be able to demand that their information is removed from company systems even if it was collected with their consent, the European Parliament has said. The Parliament has also called for a charter of individuals' internet rights.

The Parliament has adopted a new digital strategy called 2015.eu which outlines its ambitions for internet policy for the next five years and beyond. It has passed a resolution adopting the plan and demanding that the European Commission make it work.

The agenda says that a charter of citizens' and consumers' rights should be implemented by 2012 and that the Cybercrime Convention should be ratified by 2015.

"Citizens should be made aware of the privacy impact of their behaviour in an online context, and should be afforded the right to require the removal of personal data even when the data was initially collected with the consent of the data subject," it said. "The fight against cybercrime is another significant challenge. The effective enforcement of EU legislation in this field is often obstructed by cross-border legal issues, such as competent jurisdiction or applicable law."

Every house in the European Union should have access to cheap broadband connections within three years, according to the agenda, and to very high speed networks by 2020.

"Europe will only reap the benefits of this digital revolution if all EU citizens are mobilised and empowered to participate fully in the new digital society," said an explanatory statement to the policy. "This requires confidence by investors to make long term commitments, confidence by governments to move more strongly to e-government and confidence by citizens to use the digital services.

"A prerequisite for the creation of a European knowledge society is that all users have access to resilient and reliable wired and wireless broadband networks," it said. "Fixed and wireless technologies need to be widely available and interoperable to allow seamless high rate access to the Internet."

The Parliament's resolution has backed the policy's aims to have 100 per cent broadband penetration at affordable levels by 2013 and ensuring that 75 per cent of mobile phone subscribers are using third generation networks by 2015.

The policy also says that half of EU households should be connected to superfast broadband networks by 2015 and all households should be connected by 2020.

"A clear legal framework laying down the rights and duties of citizens while protecting personal data is essential," said a Parliament statement. "Preserving 'a fair balance between the right-holders’ rights and the general public’s access to content and knowledge' is also crucial. Minors and young adults need special protection, say MEPs, and action is needed to improve digital security."

The agenda also calls on the Commission to ensure the swift passage of last year's controversial Telecoms Reform Package into the national law of the EU's 27 member states.

The UK has its own plans for superfast broadband policy. The Government said that it wanted superfast networks to connect 45 per cent of UK households by 2012 and 90 per cent by 2017.

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