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article imageGDPR: Europe’s new privacy law is officially here

By Karen Graham     May 25, 2018 in Internet
The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on Friday aimed at forcing companies to pay closer attention to how they handle customer data with severe penalties for breaching consumers’ privacy rights.
Anyone with access to the Internet has seen the requests to update their privacy parameters. This writer has already been fielding requests from Facebook, AOL, Google, Twitter and many others, including news media sites.
According to the BBC, lawmakers in Brussels passed the new legislation in April 2016. And misusing or being careless with an individual's personal information will lead to fines of up to 20 million euros ($23.4m; £17.5m) or 4 percent of a company's global turnover.
The GDPR law is sweeping in its coverage. Basically, any company, and as CTV News Canada points out, this would include not just tech companies, but a boutique fashion company selling purses, a university with students from a European country or a website using cookies or other information tracking features.
The GDPR could even affect small tourism-related business such as a resort or tour operator, because they have guests from all over the world. "Anybody that is collecting personal data from European residents -- not only citizens -- needs to comply with this," Ale Brown, founder of Kirke Management Consulting, said in a phone interview from Vancouver.
The new chairwoman of the European Data Protection Board, Andrea Jelinek, told the Financial Times she expected cases to be filed "imminently, adding "If the complainants come, we will be ready,"
But because the new rules govern not just the collection and storage of information - but its sale and exploitation for marketing - some companies based in the United States have decided to stop trading in the European Union, at least for now to avoid the risk of breaking the law.
With the internet's 'address book' set to be restricted in response to EU privacy law...
With the internet's 'address book' set to be restricted in response to EU privacy law, some analysts fear a wave of cybercrime
Overly burdensome?
While advocates of personal privacy have hailed the new law as a "model for privacy protection," opponents say the law is "overly burdensome" and will create costly business disruptions, reports Reuters.
European readers of media sites owned by the Chicago U.S.-based Tronc publishing group were greeted by a message reading, “unavailable in most European countries.” Tronc owns some of America’s biggest newspapers, including the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and Baltimore Sun.
Tronc's message reads: "Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market."
Another group, Lee Enterprises, publishes 46 daily newspapers. Their message reads: "We're sorry. This site is temporarily unavailable. We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore cannot grant you access at this time."
CNN and the New York Times were among those not affected. The Washington Post and Time were among those requiring EU users to agree to new terms. In the UK, which is due to leave the European Union in 2019, a new Data Protection Act will include many provisions of the GDPR with some minor variations.
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