Updated: 25/05/18 : 06:55:36
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GDPR comes into effect across Europe today

New European Union rules on data protection have now come into effect.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives EU citizens more rights over how their personal information is used.

Companies working in the EU - or any association or club - must now get express consent to collect personal information, or face hefty fines.

The measure is an effort by EU lawmakers to limit tech companies' powers.

Lawmakers in Brussels passed the new legislation in April 2016, and the full text of the regulation has been published online.

Misusing or carelessly handling personal information will bring fines of up to 20 millions euros (€20m; $23.4m;£17.5m), or 4% of a company's global turnover.

All EU citizens now have the right to see what information companies they have about them, and to have that information deleted.

Companies must be more active in gaining consent to collect and use data too, in theory spelling an end to simple "I agree with terms and conditions" tick boxes.

Companies must also tell all affected users about any data breach, and tell the overseeing authority within 72 hours.

Each EU member states must set up a supervisory authority, and these authorities will work together across borders to ensure companies comply.

The new chair of the European Data Protection Board Andrea Jelinek said they expect cases to be filed "imminently".

"If the complainants come, we will be ready," she said.

Ireland's data regulator Helen Dixon said the country is ready to use "the full toolkit" against non-compliant companies.

Both Facebook and Twitter have their EU headquarters in Ireland.