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Europeans uneasy on online data safety

Source:ap.org Author:AOIFE WHITE Date:03/25/14 Click:

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Three out of four Europeans are worried about posting their personal information on the Internet.

Franco Frattini, the European Union's top law enforcement official, said Monday that an upcoming poll will show people were concerned about the security of their personal data and wondering what they could do to protect it.

"It is our intention to fully analyze and understand the feedback we have been given by Europe's citizens in this survey," said Frattini, the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner.

Europeans' should be "a salutary lesson" for all those who handle personal data, he said. Regulators from the EU's 27 nations are preparing a report on whether the privacy policies of Internet search engines operated by Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others comply with EU privacy law.

Frattini did not reveal the number of people surveyed or the poll's margin of error, but Eurobarometer surveys like this one usually are based on interviews with several thousand people across the EU.

While three in four people worry about the safety of posting personal data, more than half said they trusted medical services, financial institutions, employers, police, social security, tax authorities and local government to handle their data.

Frattini said people did understand the need to use private data to hunt down terror suspects and fight crime with almost 75 percent agreeing to phone tapping in certain circumstances and almost 70 percent to monitoring of their credit card use.

"Only 15 percent of respondents were against the monitoring of air traveler data in all cases," he said.

The British government was forced to apologize in November when it managed to lose sensitive details on some 25 million people who claim child benefit payments.

And banking transfer operator SWIFT drew criticism from EU data protection officers and lawmakers last year for transferring bank data to the U.S. Treasury under a secret deal that did not give enough guarantees that the information would be kept safe.

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