Updated: May 29, 2018
GDPR came into effect in the European Union on 25th of May 2018.
So what’s GDPR? The term stands for General Data Protection Regulation.
The regulation is a much stronger version of the Privacy Shield and Data Protective Directive which was in effect in the EU and will ensure that users have more control of their own data.
This typically means that every time a company collects personal data of any EU citizen, it needs “explicit” and “informed” consent. The consent here means that the company has to give details about the data usage in clear terms.
GDPR also gives users the right to transfer all their personal data from one network to the other.
Not only that, GDPR also has stringent measures for protecting data usage. This means that there are rules to govern sharing of the data collected to others. Which means everything needs to be clarified before collecting any personal information. Who is going to use it, for what purpose, who will have access etc.?
The rules are stringent and penalties very severe. The maximum fines per violation are to the tune of 4% of the Company’s Global turnover or $ 20 million whichever is larger. That’s a huge amount.
Day one of the GDPR implementation witnessed lawsuits which seek to fine Facebook 3.9 billion and Google 3.7 billion Euros by privacy activist Max Schrems.
The big tech firms will have the resources to deal with such fines and penalties, the smaller ones could get wiped away in case of any breach.
So worried are many companies that they are blocking sites for EU citizens. What’s a threat to many has presented itself as an opportunity for others?
Several companies are offering services to block EU customers from visiting their sites.
Example, Pinterest's news-clipping service Instapaper is one of the most high-profile services to announce that it will bar EU users from accessing its platform from Friday.
EU residents have the right to request access to review personal information gathered by companies. Those users called “data subjects” in GDPR terminology can ask for their information to be deleted, to be corrected if it’s incorrect, and even get delivered to them in a portable form.
GDPR is only supposed to apply to the EU and EU residents, but because so many companies do business in Europe and the complexity of a highly connected world will cause a sea change in the way personal data is handled across the world.
For now, the European Union could see a very different version of the internet from the rest of the world or maybe different countries might later to different versions of GDPR’s resulting in different digital borders.
It’s a very tricky issue.
Regulation is good but too much and complicated regulation opens the doors to messier things and even more complex crimes. Think about tax avoidance, money laundering, insider trading, corruption, sweatshops, dark web, and drug deals.
So what’s the way ahead?
I guess it’s time to revisit Tim Berners Lee, who invented the World Wide Web.
In his own words the original idea behind the invention - “the web as an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities and collaborates across geographic and cultural boundaries.”
Berners now runs an organization called the Web Foundation and has expressed concerns about three issues lately – control of personal data, fake news and lastly targeted political advertising.
People definitely should have more control over their personal information and there should be full disclosure if people are making millions selling that to third parties. Disclosure requirements are welcome but will we understand the fine print and the complicated legal jargon before ticking on the “I have read the terms and conditions”
As far as fake news is concerned, it’s as Berners puts it, being run by an army of bots and complicated algorithms. We give in to click bait and sensationalism and help to create new millionaires or Presidents.
That’s the thing – tight regulation might not be the answer to all the problems in the long run.
The internet is a wonderful thing, only if we as users use this platform mindfully so that ideas can flourish or else be controlled, manipulated and punished.