Businesses in the European Union must make it more straightforward for customers to access, amend and delete any data stored about them, according to a report by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee.
The document, put forward by Committee chairman Juan Fernando López Aguilar on Wednesday, argues that companies need to make this a top priority and should consider appointing dedicated data protection officers to manage the issue.
The report also maintained that the use of individuals' data should occur only "when it is unambiguous, informed, freely given, specific and explicit", and that consent must be sought if this is not clear.
MEPs on the Committee claimed that data protection law needs updating to include "severe and dissuasive sanctions", including criminal penalties, for the misuse and abuse of personal data to strengthen this agenda.
Additionally, countries handling personal data that has been transferred and processed outside the European region must abide by laws set out by the European Commission.
"It is imperative that data subjects' rights are fully enforced, [and] for ambitious core EU data protection aspects to be used in international agreements," the MEPs said.
The report received widespread backing from MEPs, with 49 votes in favour, one against, and no abstentions.
The Civil Liberties Committee has previously raised concerns over the transfer of personal data to US authorities under the SWIFT agreement, noting that data has been handed over without following the proper processes.
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