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Europe's New Online Privacy Rules Could Protect U.S. Users Too

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People pass by the Google logo at the Web Summit in Lisbon on Nov. 8. Europe’s new data privacy rules go into effect May 25. Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The European Union is preparing to implement sweeping privacy rules next month, but these new protections of individuals’ information may set a new standard around the world — including in the U.S.

Beginning May 25, under the new General Data Protection Regulation, companies that collect or mine personal data must ask users for consent. No longer will firms be able to bury disclosures about pervasive tracking in hard-to-read legal disclaimers.

“We’re not entirely satisfied with that’s in there,” says Estelle Massé, an analyst with the digital advocacy group Access Now, tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro. “However, it’s a great improvement from the previous law and it’s also a great basis for the use of data in the digital age.”

What counts as “personal” won’t just be attributes like race, height, weight and religion, but also an individual’s IP address or browsing history.

Rayna Stamboliyska, a data protection specialist based in Paris, says

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