European Union Privacy investigations are probing after Google, Facebook Inc. and its apps WhatsApp and Instagram following 19 cross-border complaints submitted to regulators since GDPR legislation became enforceable on May 25.
Andrea Jelinek, the EU Chief Regulator of Data Privacy, revealed that the complaints are already being investigated in an interview with Bloomberg Television. She said: “The important message is that our first task is not to fine the companies, but to look if they are compliant,” However she added that if companies “don’t match the provisions of the regulation, they could be fined.”
Companies now face huge fines if they are found to have been in breach of the GDPR legislation. The highest level of fine is 4% of annual global revenue or €20m, whichever figure is higher. Ms. Jelinek stressed that she and her colleagues look into the probes on each occasion with the relevant authority in each country where the main European base of the targeted company is located.
The case against the technology giants has been filed by Austrian Lawyer and privacy campaigner Max Schrems. Following the May 25 introduction date of GDPR, three complaints worth €3.9 billion were submitted against Facebook and two subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram via data regulators in Austria, Belgium and Hamburg. A separate complaint valued at €3.7 billion was registered with French data protection authority France CNIL in relation to Google’s Android operating system for smartphones. Schrems has been at the center of previous legal battles in relation to data privacy. In 2013 he begun a legal action to try and prevent Facebook from transferring data from its European headquarter in Ireland to the USA. Following this, in 2014, he initiated a class action lawsuit against Facebook, based in Ireland, via the Austrian judicial system.
Schrems recently establish a non-profit organisation called None of Your Business(noyb) that aims to used legal actions such as this to nullify the ability of the large tech companies to gather data that they then use to sell targeted advertising.