New Player in E.U. Data Privacy Battle

In the mid-1990s, Alan Shatter, a lawyer from South Dublin in the lower house of Parliament, played a role in bringing together diverse elements of society to lift a constitutional ban and legalize divorce.This January, when Ireland assumes the rotating presidency of the European Union, Mr. Shatter, who is now Ireland’s minister of justice, equality and defense, will take on another big challenge: putting together an agreement to extend the Union’s 17-year-old data protection law to Web businesses and the digital economy.Mr. Shatter is Ireland’s lead negotiator on the issue in the Council of Ministers, the legislative body in Brussels that acts as the European Parliament’s upper house. The Union’s 27 members are at odds over how to apply E.U. data protection laws in the digital world, and an agreement could require companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Amazon to provide the bloc’s 503.7 million consumers with far greater control over their online data than people have in the United States.

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