The privacy revolution has begun in Europe, and it’s going to be a rough ride for Silicon Valley. Just hours after the deadline for GDPR compliance ended, numerous complaints have been filed against Facebook (FB) and Google, a unit of Alphabet (GOOGL). The companies have been accused of taking user data without giving them an option for consent, and if found guilty, could face massive fines that could dent their balance sheets.
The legal revolt is led by privacy activist Max Schrems and his group noyb.eu. Filing four separate complaints against Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram over “forced consent,” Schrems said, “Facebook has even blocked accounts of users who have not given consent. In the end, users only had the choice to delete the account or hit the “agree”-button – that’s not a free choice, it more reminds of a North Korean election process.”
He said many people are ignorant of the fact that pushing for consent to use data is prohibited under the GDPR. “We probably will not immediately have billions of penalty payments, but the corporations have intentionally violated the GDPR, so we expect a corresponding penalty under GDPR,” he added.
On Thursday, AlphasStreet reported how the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regime is expected to act as a shadow monster to the US tech firms. With absolute compliance being next to impossible and fines up to 4% of the company’s global revenue, GDPR poses a significant threat to the operations of large firms that handle enormous cache of data. And this vulnerable group includes banks and financial service firms as well.
Facebook, in the light of the recent data breach, is at a tricky position, given that the social media has more users in Europe than in the US. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing at the European Parliament this week had also not gone smoothly, with many lawmakers criticizing him for giving vague answers to specific questions. The companies can only hope that things ease out as they progress.