Google and Facebook hit by GDPR complaints

Darnell Taylor
May 26, 2018

So how does this affect you? If you're confused, don't worry.

GDPR, short for General Data Protection Regulation, is created to give citizens of the European Union greater control over how their information is used online. It's simple to collect that information, so there's no reason for them not to hoard it.

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Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, said the company has been working to meet the requirements of GDPR.

"Tons of "consent boxes" popped up online or in applications, often combined with a threat, that the service can not longer be used if user [s] do not consent", his group said in a statement. And for fans of gamification, why not try a GDPR quiz? Such "spammers" could face fines and enforcement action - but would have already been in breach of European Union law (and specifically the e-Privacy Directive) before the new data protection rules kicked in. Uber waited more than a year to admit it had been breached, paying the hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep what happened under wraps.

They need to have a plan for notifying authorities and users if there's a hack, and they need to make sure they're verifying the ages of their users - children's data is a big part of this, too. For other uses, such as ad targeting, companies can seek your consent.

What Does the GDPR Do?

Following scrutiny of its data practices, Facebook had also promised that it would make the controls it introduced for GDPR available to users worldwide. The most famous case involved Cambridge Analytica, who were accused of using the data of more than 87 million Facebook users without consent. This information can't be buried deep in a terms of service no one reads; it has to be concise and in plain language.

At the most basic level, GDPR expands what counts as personal data and your rights over that data.

The right to erasure: You can remove all of the data a company has stored on you. One expert from the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave this example to the New York Times: "A birthday cake company needs your name to put on the birthday cake".

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You have a right to see all the data a company holds on you. Firms have to clarify how long they retain data. This is happening because the data previously gathered by companies on their users does not qualify for consent, so they need your explicit consent for the use of that data.

The right to data portability: This means you can download your data and take it to another service.

The right to object: If data is collected without consent but for legitimate business interests, for the public good, or by an official authority, the data subject can object.

Privacy group, led by activist Max Schrems, said people were not being given a "free choice".

It will protect these rights more fully by expanding on the old European Union law on data protection and ensuring regulation is harmonised across the EU.

"Retailers must also be prepared to lose a sizable proportion of their customer database as subscribers ignore communications to opt in to receiving marketing messages or choose to take the opportunity to opt out in order to declutter their inbox", she said.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faced questions from MEPs earlier this week about his company's collection of data. This is why pretty much every service you've ever given your email address to is contacting you. If a company specifically asked you to opt-in originally, and did not offer a pre-checked box, they were already compliant.

What Does the GDPR Mean for Americans?

"Europeans' privacy will be better protected and companies benefit from a single set of rules across the EU".

Also today, publications owned by Tronc, formerly Tribune Media, have blocked access for Europeans.

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