BERLIN: Marketers face the prospect of a tough European agreement on data protection following a call by Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, for strong cross-border regulations to protect consumer privacy.

"Internet companies which are operating in Europe, such as Facebook and Google, must giveā€¦ European countries the information about whom they have given data to," she said in a weekend interview on German TV which was reported in the Financial Times.

Under Merkel's plans, companies, and by extension, brands, would be subject to the same rules on the storage of personal information across all European Union countries, rather than operating, as at present, on a country-by-country basis.

Germany, for example, has much stricter data protection laws than the UK or Ireland, where Facebook is registered.

One possible consequence of internet service providers having to unify their data policies, noted Marketing Week, was that there could be restrictions on how marketers were able to target online campaigns.

The chancellor's intervention may further delay negotiations on a common European data protection law. The latest draft, put forward by the Irish presidency of the EU council in June, watered down a previous version which the UK's Direct Marketing Association had called "disastrous" for business.

These demands for stricter rules are likely to add to the uncertainty for business and the possibility that whatever is eventually put in place will lag behind how brands are actually using data.

Merkel's remarks come as the transatlantic dispute continues over the role of internet service providers in providing data on their customer's habits to US intelligence services.

"We must have an intensive discussion to discover what is reasonable," argued Merkel, adding that the German stance was that "the end does not always justify the means" when it comes to collecting intelligence information.

Data sourced from Financial Times, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff