The Circuit: European privacy rules, Google’s privacy changes, Facebook Timeline

LEADING THE DAY: The European Commission on Wednesday proposed new privacy rules that would place more responsibility on companies to protect user data. Those who breach user data can be fined up to 2 percent of their annual global turnover.

The BBC reported that the new rules include a “right to be forgotten” and will require that data breaches must be reported “as soon as possible.”

Many of the rules emphasize data portability and accessibility, trying to ensure that users have more control over their own information. They also require that companies with 250 or more employees appoint a data officer.

Facebook’s Sandberg warns about strict privacy rules: Ahead of the European Commission’s release of its privacy rules, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg warned that strict privacy rules could hurt innovation.

In a speech at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Sandberg said that the U.S. and Europe need to have “the right regulatory environment — a regulatory environment that promotes innovation and economic growth,” the New York Times reported.

Google’s privacy changes: Google announced Tuesday that it plans to follow the activities of users across nearly all of its ubiquitous sites, including YouTube, Gmail and its leading search engine, The Washington Post reported.

Google has already been collecting some of this information. But for the first time, it is combining data across its Web sites to stitch together a fuller portrait of users.Consumers won’t be able to opt out of the changes, which take effect March 1. And experts say the policy shift will invite greater scrutiny from federal regulators of the company’s privacy and competitive practices.

Facebook Timeline: Facebook said Wednesday that, as announced, it will require all users to transition to the Timeline format in the next few weeks, giving the social network’s users seven days to review their information before converting all of its users to the new format.

Timeline, a scrapbook-like layout that highlights big events in users’ lives, has the capability to display all Facebook activity.

Apple earnings: Apple blew away already-high expectations with its first-quarter earnings results, buoyed by strong sales of the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2. In the first full fiscal quarter the company faced without its late co-founder, Steve Jobs, Apple posted a quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion and announced it had sold 37 million iPhones and 15 million iPads. Analysts had predicted iPhone sales of around 30 million and iPad sales at a more conservative 13 million.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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