Europe’s GDPR laws came into effect on May 25th, 2018 and within one day of enforcement, tech giants Google and Facebook were hit with multi-billion dollar lawsuits over coercing users into sharing personal data.
The Austrian lawyer filed the lawsuit on behalf of unnamed individuals who were affected by products such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Google’s Android operating system. These lawsuits roughly amount to $8.8 billion.
According to Schrems, the companies are violating GDPR laws by forcing their users to consent to share their personal data and that they have gone as far as blocking accounts of users who declined to consent.
“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 of a North Korean election process,” said Schrems in a statement published on TechCrunch.
GDPR requires clear consent from users and a justification from the companies who collect any personal data. So, both Facebook and Google have changed their policies to comply with the new data protection laws, but the complaints filed by Shcrem claims that those changes are not enough.
In response to the lawsuits, both companies have argued that have taken adequate measures to meet GDPR requirements. In a statement issued to BBC, Google said, “We build privacy and security into our products from the very earliest stages and are committed to complying with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.”
Facebook has also disputed the charges saying, “We have prepared for the past 18 months to ensure we meet the requirements of the GDPR” and “introduced better tools for people to access, download, and delete their information.”