Tough new GDPR data protection rules come into force

Companies will have to explain why they want your data and how it will be used

Tough new GDPR data protection rules come into force

File Photo of the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon, 11-04-2017. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

New EU laws aimed at protecting personal data come into effect across Europe today.

The General Data Protection Regulation - or GDPR - was signed into law by President Higgins yesterday.

The laws offer greater protection for the data of 500 million people across the EU.

The rules give people more rights over how their personal information is used - and increase the amount companies can be fined if they don't comply.

From now on, if a company wants to offer an internet service in exchange for a user’s data, they have to get their permission first.

The companies will have to explain why they want it and how it will be used - with large fines for those that don't follow the rules.

The new regulations appear to have caught a number of US websites on the hop - with readers of titles including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News blocked from accessing their content from within the EU today.

Newstalk Tech expert Jess Kelly explains what's changing:

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon said she will take any complaints seriously:

“We may also conduct audits,” she said.

“In the annual reports that we have published for the last two years, we have detailed up to about 50 audits that we have conducted a year where we have identified sectors or industries or risk areas that we have wanted to pro-actively go in and look at.”

Companies found to be in breach of GDPR can be fined up to €20m – or 20% of their annual turnover.