The Big Tech companies face new and stringent European privacy rules

August 8, 2023 by
Frank Calviño

The European Union aims to strengthen the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to the maximum and facilitate cooperation among the 27 member states in cross-border investigations. As a result, investigations into Big Tech companies will be more efficient than ever.

The main objective is to enhance the harmonized rules since their creation, as they are considered too lenient and slow, with legal supremacy in privacy disputes remaining in the hands of Ireland and Luxembourg, where investigations into Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, and Amazon have been conducted.

On July 4th, the new proposal was unveiled, with the European Commission aiming to "strengthen citizens' trust by facilitating faster resolution of investigations and reducing the number of disputes between supervisory authorities."

The new regulation establishes different points, such as whistleblowers having the right to be heard and being able to participate if regulators decide to investigate their complaints. On the other hand, the companies under investigation will be heard at key stages, have the opportunity to provide clarifications, and access the case file.

The GDPR will pressure Big Tech companies

In investigations involving Big Tech, authorities under the GDPR must share a summary identifying key elements, present their views in the early stages, and use cooperation tools such as joint investigations and mutual assistance.

Technology companies have already begun to take action. For example, Microsoft has been announcing changes since January 1st. Starting this year, users of their European cloud have their data stored and managed within European soil. This has been called the "EU data boundary" and applied to all their cloud services (Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power BI).

On the other hand, Meta, the owner of Facebook, has been the company sanctioned with the highest amount for violating the GDPR in Europe, with fines amounting to 1.2 billion euros. Amazon follows with 746 million euros.

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