Facebook, Google face complaints worth $8 billion over GDPR

Privacy activist Max Schrems has wasted no time making use of Europe’s new data protection law to target the giants of Silicon Valley.

The Austrian lawyer’s non-profit organization NOYB filed complaints against Google, Facebook and Facebook-owned services WhatsApp and Instagram on Friday. The complaints could result in penalties worth up to 7 billion euros ($8.1 billion).

Schrems alleged that the companies “forced consent” from users to obtain the right to use their data and comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

GDPR, which was implemented on Friday, means that firms must obtain explicit consent from customers in order to user their data. It also lets people request to see all the data firms have on them and to have that data deleted.

“Facebook has even blocked accounts of users who have not given consent,” Schrems said. “In the end, users only had the choice to delete the account or hit the ‘agree’ button — that’s not a free choice, it more reminds (me) of a North Korean election process.”

GDPR threatens to fine firms up to 4 percent of global annual turnover or 20 million euros ($23.4 million) — whichever is bigger — for violations.

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