Last week, which marked the first day of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) instituted by the European Union, Facebook and Google were handed a slew of lawsuits, which accused them of “coercing users into sharing personal data,” The Verge says. The lawsuits were filed by Max Schrems, a “longtime critic of the companies’ data collection practices,” who’s seeking to fine Facebook $3.9 billion, and Google roughly $8.8 billion.
“GDPR requires clear consent and justification for any personal data collected from users, and these guidelines have pushed companies across the internet to revise their privacy policies and collection practices,” The Verge says.
Google and Facebook have since enforced new policies that comply with GDPR, but Schrems argues that “those policies don’t go far enough;” The Verge says he’s particularly worried about how Facebook and Google collect consent for the privacy policies, which ask users to check a box in order to receive services. According to Schrems, the check-boxing practice “forces users into an all-or-nothing choice,” which violates GDPR’s provisions around consent.
The Verge says that both Facebook and Google have fought back against the charges, each saying that they have built their privacy and security practices around GDPR’s requirements.
Why GDPR is important:
Since GDPR protects users’ privacy and cracks down on data collection processes, tech companies are rewriting their privacy policies and terms, and are developing new ways to more clearly ask users for consent of their data, and more often. Additionally, GDPR is affecting how companies share and handle users’ data behind the scenes; The Verge says companies receiving the data will now need to identify why they need that specific data, and what they are going to be doing with it.
As a result, tech companies that are new to the GDPR update should consider hopping on the bandwagon and research how they can better comply. Otherwise, if they are discovered to not comply they will be fined; companies can be penalized up to four percent of their global revenue. To put it in perspective: if Amazon was fined four percent of its global revenue, the company would be looking at a $7 billion fine.