US firms make changes in response to EU privacy law

Facebook, Google and others alter data collection policies to comply with new privacy rules
SAN FRANCISCO: A European law altering the relationship between large technology companies and their users went into effect Friday, and the enforcement is having worldwide consequences.
Enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) began Friday in the European Union, which is focused on letting web service users have more control of their data. Even though the law is only enforceable in the EU, it regulates tech companies even if they are based in the United States.
Many companies are changing their overall data collection policies, even for users in the U.S., to better fit the EU law. Users of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and hundreds of other websites received emails notifying them of updated privacy policies due to the GDPR, which was passed in 2016.
The GDPR requires tech companies to be explicit about collecting user data and allow users to delete that data upon request. Companies also have to inform users of a data breach within 72 hours of discovery, and the law requires companies to appoint a person to be in charge of data protection.
If companies violate the law, they could face billions of dollars in fines.
One European data privacy advocate, Max Schrems, has already filed lawsuits on Friday against Facebook and Google that demand nearly $9 billion in fines between the two companies.
“It’s simple: Anything strictly necessary for a service does not need consent boxes anymore,” Schrems said in a statement. “For everything else, users must have a real choice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
Many major U.S. news outlets temporarily shut down their EU operations as they scrambled to comply with the GDPR. Notably, Tronc, which owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other large media properties, shuttered its websites in the EU.
“We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market,” a message on the Tronc websites said. “We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.”–AA

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