With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect on May 25 it did not take long for the first complaints to be filed. This should be no surprise, even though Europeans are nowhere near as litigious as us Americans. Among the early targets of these complaints were Facebook, Google, Instagram and WhatsApp (the latter two are owned by Facebook).

The GDPR put in place regulations that help to safeguard the information that is stored on a company’s website and what information a company can ask of a client. It also allows that client or user to have the ability to remove their information, or essentially have the right to be forgotten.

First complaints

The first complaints were filed by the Austrian privacy activist group noyb.eu who states that users are not being given a choice about their data. The sites mentioned have adopted a take it or leave it approach to data collection, that is they either authorize those sites to collect their data for advertising or their accounts will not work. The group claims that this is illegal under the new regulation. If found guilty those companies could face hefty fines.

While Facebook claims that it has spent a year and a half getting its platform in compliance many other websites have simply blocked their site from being accessible in Europe to avoid the penalties. These include several prominent newspaper websites here in the US like the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times along with several others. Some others like the Washington Post have made users agree to new terms of service.

Clogged inboxes

On a lighter note in the week before the implementation of GDPR the inboxes of Europeans were filled up with companies asking for permission to continue marketing and data collection from their customers. That was quite a bit of email being sent though the good news for Europeans is that those could be the last ones they get from those companies. It will also allow them a good opportunity to clean out their inboxes.

There certainly will be more fallout as more complaints are registered and the courts and regulatory bodies determine how the law will be enforced in Europe and with non-European companies. It has been a taxing situation for many and as with any new law there will be situations and loopholes that need to be ironed out. Hopefully when the time comes for something like this to be implemented here in the US we can learn from what goes on in Europe and make the process smoother.

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