Business Times

Europe’s Privacy Battle To Be Fiercer This Year

The European Union is expected to continue raging war against tech firms that it thinks does not provide the necessary privacy protection for users' data. As of year-end 2019, the battle already won the EU $126 million or 114 million euros.

The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are seen in a combination photo from Reuters files. (Photo: REUTERS/File Photos/File Photo)

The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are seen in a combination photo from Reuters files. (Photo: REUTERS/File Photos/File Photo)

According to CNBC, the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) already received over 160,000 data-violating notifications across the European regions, as confirmed by multinational law agency DLA Piper.

Industry experts believe the battle has just begun even if there have been companies who were fined for data breaches. So far, Google has received the biggest blow from the EU's privacy regulation reforms. The U.S. tech giant was fined with 50 million euros.

It is further expected that stricter regulations will be established as part of the bloc's efforts in protecting user privacy. Partner at DLA Piper, Ross McKean, noted that the implementations are "still in the very early days," confirming analyst expectations that there's more to come.

McKean, who specializes in cyber and data protection, said it is only fitting that "we're seeing a slow start to fines." This is especially true as more member countries are being more aware of the potential violations that big tech firms may be committing.

An example of stricter data privacy regulations is in the United Kingdom. The British Information Commissioner's Office fined Facebook at $651,000 due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw millions of user information being accessed by a third party.

The EU has also made its breach notification statistics available for public viewing, to further stand true to its commitment towards transparency in investigations over potential violations made by big tech firms.

Netherlands topped the list of European countries with the highest number of breach reports across the bloc. Per 100,000 people, there were 147.2 violations reported, as revealed by DLA Piper.

According to the Irish Times, Ireland came in second, with 6,700 data privacy violations reported to the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC). Per 100,000 people, Ireland had 132.52 breach reports.

As for the total value of fines, Germany recorded the highest with fines imposed at 24.5 million euros. Austria secured the second spot, with fines reaching 24.5 million euros.

While the big tech companies that usually get into the nerves of data protection regulators are Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and the likes, some sources indicated that Ireland's DPC is already on the final stages of a probe on WhatsApp.

It remains to be seen whether new fines will be implemented this year, but industry analysts argued that companies in the tech sector should expect more headaches from the EU'S data protection law.