Google and Facebook Face Lawsuits with Change in Data Rule

The new sweeping data protection law in Europe took effect Friday and experts in the legal community said that big tech companies have already violated the rules.

Facebook and subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp, along with Google, are already facing lawsuits because of not complying with the new General Data Protection Regulations or GDPR.

These companies could be facing billions of dollars worth of fines if regulators in Europe agree that they have not complied.

A lawyer in Austria whose NGO filed lawsuits said they were looking for large companies that willfully are in violation of the law and that attempt to ignore the law.

The complaint was filed against Facebook with data regulators in Austria, Google has a complaint against it filed with French regulators, while German regulators received one against WhatsApp and Belgian regulators received one against Instagram, the moment the new law became effective at midnight May 25.

Starting on Friday, data regulators in Europe can impose fines that reach 4% of the annual global sales for each time a company runs afoul of this new legislation.

There is not any grace period, said the UK deputy commissioner for the data protection authority. He added the authority will be searching the algorithms being used to profit off the data to make sure they continued to be fair and comply.

According to one analyst in Europe as well as several legal experts, Facebook is already breaking the new law that is intended to prevent tech companies gathering sensitive data such as religious beliefs, political opinions, sexuality and ethnicity without prior consent form their users.

An expert in technology in London said even if the user completely eliminates sensitive traits from his or her profile, Facebook is able to glean off information like sexual orientation through analyzing the behavior of the user on its platform and other sites.

A data tech expert said Facebook has its trackers on more than 40% of the websites visited annually in the world. There Facebook is able to infer things from all the data it holds about users across mobile devices and apps which also send data back to them.

Mark Zuckerberg the CEO at Facebook testified on Tuesday before the European Parliament and insisted that his company would comply with the new data regulations.