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Europe to force Google, Facebook to abide by EU privacy rules

Published on Jun 6, 2014 8:54 PM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Companies based outside the European Union must meet Europe's data protection rules, ministers agreed on Friday, although governments remain divided over how to enforce them on companies operating across the bloc.

The agreement to force Internet companies such as Google and Facebook to abide by EU rules is a first step in a wider reform package to tighten privacy laws - an issue that gained prominence following revelations of United States spying in Europe.

Vodafone's disclosure on Friday of the extent of telephone call surveillance in European countries showed the practice was not limited to the United States. The world's second-largest mobile phone company, Vodafone, is headquartered in Britain.

"All companies operating on European soil have to apply the rules," EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding told reporters at a meeting in Luxembourg where ministers agreed on a position that has also been backed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).

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