The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is newly on the books in the European Union, but that hasn't stopped Facebook and Google from being hit with a handful of lawsuits having to do with how they share data.
The Verge, citing the lawsuits, reported they are seeking to hit Facebook and Google with fines that collectively amount to around $8.8 billion. The lawsuits were filed by Max Schrems, an Austrian activist who has long criticized how the companies collect data on their users.
Under the new regulation, companies have to provide clear consent and justify why they are collecting data on their users, as well as clarify what they intend to do with it. They are also required to overhaul their privacy and data collection policies to better protect consumers.
Google and Facebook have been addressing GDPR before it was law, rolling out new policies and products to better protect the data, but Schrems said in the lawsuit that those steps aren't enough. Specifically, the lawsuit states that the method the companies use to get consent for their privacy policies – asking users to click a box to access the service – gives consumers an all-or-nothing choice, which is a violation of GDPR.
“They totally know that it’s going to be a violation,” Schrems told Financial Times. “They don’t even try to hide it.”
According to the report, the raft of lawsuits is broken down based on the product, with one being lodged against Facebook and two against Instagram and WhatsApp, which Facebook owns. A lawsuit against Google's Android operating system has also been filed.
Both companies argue that their measures comply with the GDPR requirements. "We build privacy and security into our products from the very earliest stages, and are committed to complying with the EU GDPR,” Google said in a statement to The Verge. Meanwhile, Facebook said: "We have prepared for the past 18 months to ensure we meet the requirements of the GDPR.”