5 digital privacy rights Europeans now have that Americans don't

Ivan Schwartz
May 26, 2018

"A lot of these companies now force you to consent to the new privacy policy, which is totally against the law". Facebook is no exception.

The U.S. has no overarching federal law on data breaches, although all 50 states have enacted varying laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

As some of you might be aware, the European Union's strict new rules around customer data go into effect today.

GDPR is created to give you (the "data subject", as you're elegantly dubbed) more control over your personal information. And on May 23, it announced that it would start showing similar pop-ups to users outside the EU.

But Schrems' complaints argue that the consent boxes popping up on the screens of users of Google, Facebook and their affiliates does not meet this standard.

The right to data portability: This means you can download your data and take it to another service.

The regulations are aimed at personal data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union - but also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU.

You have the new right to data portability under the GDPR, which means you can ask for your data from a company in a machine-readable format.

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That means companies have had to put in place processes for dealing with such requests and educating their workforce because any non-compliance could lead to stiff sanctions.

Not much will change for you, at least right away; companies will keep on collecting and analyzing personal data from your phone, the apps you use and the sites you visit. The infamous Equifax data breach involving almost 150 million people, by contrast, stayed quiet for six weeks before the credit bureau informed the world.

Noyb apparently was ready with its complaints when GDPR became law at midnight in Europe.

There's also a somewhat vague category called "legitimate interests". "It might seem like a smart move, but in some cases, it's more work", said Larry Ponemon, founder of the privacy research firm Ponemon Institute.

All EU citizens now have the right to see what information companies have about them, and to have that information deleted.

The new regulations come into effect today (25 May) and companies have one month to comply or face penalties of up to €20 million - almost R300 million - or 4% of their turnover, according to Era Gunning, director of Banking and Finance at ENSAfrica. An organization can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of their worldwide annual turnover (whichever is greater) under the laws. If that's the real problem, the laws will make a difference by making businesses think more deeply about what data they collect and why, and GDPR may improve the quality of the Internet.

"GDPR is an important step forward for privacy rights in Europe and around the world, and we've been enthusiastic supporters of GDPR since it was first proposed in 2012", Julie Brill, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. And it's also simpler for companies to enforce a single set of rules for all customers in many cases.

Companies that did send out emails asking for renewed consent might find themselves in a tricky situation now, said Aaron Tantleff, privacy lawyer at Foley & Lardner.

Other reports by GizPress

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