Privacy Critic Files GDPR Complaints Against Facebook And Google


As Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect, Facebook privacy critic Max Schrems has filed four complaints over consent required to use online services. The complaints were filed against Facebook — along with its Instagram and WhatsApp services — and against Google’s Android, TechCrunch reported.

“It’s simple: Anything strictly necessary for a service does not need consent boxes anymore,” Schrems wrote in a statement. “For everything else, users must have a real choice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’” Furthermore, Schrems claims “Facebook has even blocked accounts of users who have not given consent.” But, with the law, users must be given a free choice. As users only have the choice to agree or delete the account, “that’s not a free choice,” he contends.

Facebook, however, said it has prepared for GDPR for the past 18 months. “We have made our policies clearer, our privacy settings easier to find and introduced better tools for people to access, download and delete their information,” Facebook wrote in a statement.

The news comes as regulators who are tasked with enforcing the law have signaled they are not ready to enforce it yet: Reuters, citing 17 of 24 authorities who responded to a survey, said they don’t have the funding or lack the powers to enforce the rules under GDPR as of earlier in May. “We’ve realized that our resources were insufficient to cope with the new missions given by the GDPR,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, president of France’s CNIL data privacy watchdog, said in an interview with Reuters. She said she will be asking her government for more resources and staff.

According to Reuters, many regulators lack power because governments haven’t updated laws to include ones that are Europe-wide. That process, noted the report, could take several months after the new rules are in effect, as of Friday (May 25). The majority of survey respondents said they would react when they received complaints and would investigate them if there was cause. A minority said they would proactively look into whether or not companies complied and would deal out sanctions when there were obvious violations.