Heightened debate as European Union privacy rules take effect

28 May, 2018, 09:35 | Author: Marjorie Miles
  • Max Schrems filed complaints against Google Facebook Instagram and Whats App as new data rules came

Not this time! In the face of the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytical (FACA) scandal, wherein the personal data over 87 million people were compromised, and the tons of data that tech companies like Google collect on us often without our consent, the least that one can do is to shower praise on the European Union for bringing civilization back to mankind via the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect 24 May 2018, with enforcement starting the following day.

Non-profit noyb.eu has filed a complaint against Google, Facebook, as well as WhatsApp and Instragram, accusing them of engaging in "forced consent", which is basically a "take it or leave it" approach where-in users are barred from using a service completely if they do not agree to the terms set by the company.

You may have received a flood of emails recently from multinational firms with regard to updated privacy policies. Therefore, companies across the world are gearing up to ensure compliance to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and e-Privacy requirements.

Similarly, there has been a 142 per cent rise in job postings and 188 per cent rise in searches for "Data Protection" job roles.

Brussels says the new laws put Europeans "back in control" of their data.

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The data protection reform is geared towards stimulating economic growth by cutting costs and red tape for European business, also for small and medium enterprises.

The GDPR requires tech companies to be explicit about collecting user data and allow users to delete that data upon request.

His laptop perched on the table of a traditional Viennese coffee house, Schrems showed how a pop-up message on Facebook seeks consent to use his data - and how he is blocked when he refuses. For instance, if you Like certain pictures on Instagram, you may notice that similar pictures are recommended to you in the Explore function or that ads are catered to your desires. Egan also referred to a new feature Facebook announced earlier this month called "Clear History", which will let users see the websites tracking their information and delete the data from their accounts.

People in the bloc have been bombarded with dozens of emails asking for their consent to keep processing their data, and a privacy activist wasted no time in taking action against US tech giants for allegedly acting illegally by forcing users to accept intrusive terms of service or lose access.

The action brought by noyb against Google relates to new smartphones using its Android operating system.

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Depending on the European Union countries, there is generally also more public backing here than in the United States for the sort of expansive regulations that took effect Friday - at least as long as they don't turn the Internet into a bureaucratic nightmare.

Both Google and Facebook dispute the claims.

It also asks the regulator to impose "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" fines as foreseen by GDPR, which in Facebook's case could run to 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion).

"So far it was cheaper just to ignore privacy rights", Schrems told Reuters. Last night, GDPR information webpages were going kaput as companies worldwide crashed them in their last minute attempts to gauge whether or not they were GDPR ready.

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