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How GDPR Is Failing

How GDPR Is Failing

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How GDPR Is Failing

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The world-leading data law

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has immeasurably improved the privacy rights of millions inside and outside of Europe.

Yet, it hasn't stamped out the worst problems. Complaints allege that Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram forced people into giving up their data without actual consent.

Civil society groups have grown frustrated with GDPR's limitations while the information economy moves ahead at a staggering speed.

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In January 2012, lawmakers in Brussels proposed reforming Europe's data rules. The GDPR law was finally passed in 2016, giving companies two years to comply.

GDPR enforce how businesses must handle personal data, such as names and IP addresses, but it doesn't ban the use of data in cases such as police use of intrusive facial recognition. It uses seven principles to guide how your data can be used and stored.

GDPR use these principles that allow each European country to issue fines of up to 4 per cent of a firm's global turnover for violating GDPR principles.

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GDPR complaints

Several early and complex GDPR complaints have led to backlogs at regulators, and paperwork has slowed down international cooperation.

  • Since May 2018, the Irish regulator, responsible for Meta's Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, plus all of Google's services, Airbnb, Yahoo, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, and LinkedIn, has completed 65 per cent of over 400 cases involving cross border decisions.
  • Other cases against Netflix (Netherlands), Spotify (Sweden), and PimEyes (Poland) have been ongoing for years.

Yet Europe's data regulators claim GDPR enforcement is working well and improving.

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Despite enforcement problems, GDPR has had an incalculable effect on data practices broadly.

  • EU countries have made decisions in thousands of local cases and issued guidance to organizations to say how they should use people’s data.
  • Some of GDPR’s impact is also hidden. For example, it has improved company behaviours. Companies have stopped using people’s data suspiciously when they wouldn’t have thought twice about it before GDPR.

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Big Tech lags in complying to GDPR

At Big Tech levels where data is plentiful, the scale of complying with GDPR is different.

A recent internal Facebook document hints that the company doesn't really know what it does with personal data. Similarly, serious shortcomings are present in the way Amazon handles customer data.

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  • Enforcement should be more centralised for big affairs instead of being funnelled to the country where Big Tech's main European headquarters are based.
  • Europe has passed two pieces of digital regulation: The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. The laws focus on competition and internet safety and handle enforcement different from GDPR.
  • Smaller tweaks in the GDPR could improve enforcement.

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