Regulators across Europe say they have recorded a marked increase in the number of data-related complaints during the first month of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Information Commissioners Office says it has seen a rise in data protection complaints follow the implementation of the legislation, as well as an increase in the number of organisations informing them of breaches.
Similarly, France’s data regulator, CNIL, has reported a staggering increase in the number of complaints since the 25th of May. Compared to the same period last year, CNIL has witnessed a 50% increase in complaints.
Similar statistics have been emerging from Austria, where regulators recorded more than 100 complaints and 59 breach notifications in the space of a month – before the introduction of GDPR these numbers would normally accrue over a period of several months.
A spokesperson for ICO said: “It’s early days and we will collate, analyse and publish official statistics in due course. But generally, as anticipated, we have seen a rise in personal data breach reports from organisations.
“Complaints relating to data protection issues are also up and, as more people become aware of their individual rights, we are expecting the number of complaints to the ICO to increase too.”
Since the 25th of May, a trend has been appearing, with a significant amount of complaints being filed against major companies. Facebook and Google have already been the subject of complaints filed by privacy campaigners and consumer rights group, Noyb.eu
Complaints against Facebook were filed on the first day of GDPR and accused the company of forcing users into providing consent for data processing. Users of the social media platform were met with a message saying they needed to agree to new terms and conditions or else risk being denied services.
Noyb.eu filed four complaints in total against Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and Instagram over forced consent – labelling their practices “privacy à la take it or leave it”.
GDPR appears to already be having a positive effect on both citizens and organisations across Europe; encouraging transparency in business and empower the individual to demand their rights are respected.
For firms across Europe, complying with GDPR is critical. Risking fines of up to 20 million euros or 4% of a company’s annual turnover is a significant threat and as such is forcing companies to move toward greater transparency and openness with authorities and consumers.
Fearing the Worst
A number of high-profile organisations ceased European operations entirely following 25th May and are still pondering how to re-establish themselves in Europe. The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and a number of other publications owned by the Tronc Media group are still blocked to EU readers.
USA Today is even offering European web users an ad-free, barebones platform in a desperate attempt to comply with the regulations. The fear instilled in these organisations clearly suggests that GDPR is doing what it’s supposed to; protect citizens rights.
However, EU web users are being denied access to certain forms of media because of a reluctance among certain companies to ensure they operate in a transparent and ethical manner.