The EU is apparently thinking of adopting common and highly restrictive privacy standards which would make use of information by firms much more difficult and would require, for example, that data be retained only as long as necessary. This is touted as pro-consumer legislation. However, the effects would be profoundly anti-consumer. For one thing, ads would be much less targeted, and so consumers would get less valuable ads and would not learn as much about valuable prodcts and services aimed at their interests. For another effect, fraud and identity theft would become more common as sellers could not use stored information to verify identity. Finally, costs of doing buisness would increase, and so we would expect to see fewer innovations aimed at the European market, and some sellers might avoid that market entirely.
(Cross-posted from the Truth on the Market blog.)