Big Tech and national governments are the real problem, not GDPR

27/06/2024 | The Irish Times

In an article for The Irish Times, technology and business journalist Karlin Lillington discussed the challenges concerning the enforcement of the EU  General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The problem is not inherent to privacy and data protection but lies with national governments, regulators, and powerful technology companies. These entities frequently undermine the true purpose of the GDPR, which is to curb their invasive practices and safeguard individuals' privacy rights.

During the recent European Data Protection Symposium, EU commissioner Viviane Reding highlighted that the original goal of the  GDPR was to rein in the excessive data practices of large corporations and not burden small businesses with excessive bureaucracy and fines. The original vision was for a single EU regulatory office to address major data issues rather than multiple national data protection authorities (DPAs) engaging in inconsistent application of the GDPR.

Lillington claims that governments, corporations, and certain DPAs often prioritise their interests over enforcing privacy and data rights. Their focus on data as a tool for control and profit leads to under-enforcement and perpetuates extensive surveillance. Furthermore, she argues that some member states and corporations are willing to risk penalties imposed by DPAs and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to maintain their data access. Lillington concludes that an overhaul of the GDPR is needed and that it should involve replacing the national DPA system with more effective enforcement mechanisms to protect data and privacy rights.

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