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500 million Europeans blocked from media as new law takes effect

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
5/25/2018 (4 weeks ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

European privacy law has firms scrambling to comply.

Internet giants Facebook and Google could now face billions in fines for not complying with a new European privacy law. Several American websites, including news sites, have blocked about 500 million users from Europe. The effort may be in vain as blocking is also forbidden by the new law. 

Europeans are taking control of their data from firms like Google and Facebook.

Europeans are taking control of their data from firms like Google and Facebook.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
5/25/2018 (4 weeks ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: data, marketing, Facebook, Google


LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A new European privacy law is the reason why you have been getting a lot of emails lately. Virtually every firm that has your data is scrambling to comply with a new European law that requires firms to disclose what data they have on users and how they are using it. It also requires firms to delete data if it is irrelevant, or upon the user's request. 

The law is called the General Data Protection Regulation. 

Violators of the law could be fined up to two percent of their annual revenue. 

For firms like Facebook and Google, these fines could reach into the billions of dollars, even for just one offense. 

In reaction to the law, several U.S. websites are blocking European users. In the media, the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News are blocking European users from accessing their sites. A&E television, the History and Lifetime channels are also blocking viewers. 

Blocking users will not absolve these companies from compliance. It is likely their bosses have decided this is the lesser of two evils solution to an expensive law. 

Many businesses rely on data aggregation to make money. Your information is worth something. Your email alone could be worth a couple dollars to hundreds, depending on how likely businesses think you are to buy something from them. 

Your data is crucial to marketers because it allows them to build a profile of who you are. That then allows retailers to pay only for advertisements to people who are likely to be interested in their products. It makes marketing much more efficient and effective. 

But big data is also vulnerable. And some people don't like the idea of being tracked and profiled. Identity thieves often hack databases and steal information, which they then use to scam people. 

Across Europe, email databases are being wiped out as customers refuse to opt in to further communications. This is the reason why inboxes are being flooded, businesses are begging customers to opt-in for their email marketing again. Most customers are simply ignoring the emails so they can declutter their inboxes. 

Americans do not enjoy these benefits and protections, but they may still benefit in other ways. Certainly, many firms are updating their privacy policies and remind consumers they have their data. Even if American consumers are not being offered the chance to opt-in again, they can use these emails as a chance to unsubscribe, possibly even to lists they did not know they were on. 

And the EU law could become a model for future legislation in the United States. Although the present political climate does not appear to be inclined to stop big data collection, that climate is likely to change in the next several years. 

Is the age of big data over? Probably not. Marketers are clever and will find new ways to get a foot inside your virtual door. However, it is encouraging to see that some consumers will now have a voice in what happens to their data. 

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