Many tech giants have begun preparing for Europe’s new data privacy rules, more formally known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The plan, equipped with 99 different articles, was generated back in 2016 and is set to begin May 25th, 2018. These new regulations were created to protect EU’s “fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons and in particular their right to the protection of personal data.” Because there are differences in data privacy between the US and the EU, America’s tech giants made changes to their products when they heard the news.
Here’s a quick breakdown of GDPR:
Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have improved how they give users access to their own privacy settings. Some have redesigned certain products that take up way too much user data. And in some cases, companies have removed products entirely from the European market because they would violate the new privacy rules.
Facebook had already come into a tight spot with Germany when it came to personal data use and privacy settings. According to a judgment handed down by a Berlin regional court, Facebook privacy settings were against German consumer law. “The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent. The Federation of German consumer organizations (VZBV), which brought the suit, argued that Facebook opted users into features which it should not have.” Facebook has now rolled out a new global data privacy center — a single page that allows users to organize who sees their posts and what types of ads they are served. It could be a step in the right direction.
Google has started letting people around the world choose what data they want to share with its various products, including Gmail and Google Docs. The latest version of their privacy settings was modified and released in December of 2017.
Amazon recently began improving the data encryption on its cloud storage service and simplified an agreement with customers over how it processes their information. The company released a blog post giving an outline of its efforts to comply with the new European regulations. Amazon said it would strengthen the encryption around the data it stores on its cloud storage services and reaffirmed the rights of customers to choose the region where they want their data stored.
The new regulations could cause a ripple effect in the world’s use of social media platforms and the internet as a whole. “G.D.P.R. is going to introduce very fundamental changes to the way the internet works for everyone,” said Doug Kramer, general counsel of CloudFlare, an internet performance and security company based in San Francisco that has also tightened its data storage and processing practices.
As long as companies make adjustments for their users in Europe, others will follow and changes could be seen across the board. And as the new rules take effect, other countries outside Europe may start demanding similar protection measures for their citizens. Perhaps the US will eventually jump on board with this as well.
“There will be a moment, especially as more people in the U.S. find themselves uncomfortable with the channels monitoring their private lives,” said Věra Jourová, the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.
Europe’s GDPR could be the path to a whole new world of internet. And while the internet may be ready for change, the people who use it might not. Are we ready to stop giving almost full disclosure of our lives to the internet?
Read more posts by Alejandra Terrones.