Facebook and Google hit with billion euro lawsuits as GDPR takes effect



Facebook and Google have been hit with a series of lawsuits, in the wake of GDPR of coming into force, that accuse the tech giants of coercing users into sharing their personal data.

The lawsuits, which seek to fine Facebook €3.9 billion and Google €3.7bn, were brought by Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist and critic of the two companies’ privacy practices.

Under the new GDPR regime, consent and justification for the collection of users’ personal data are required, prompting companies to revise their privacy policies and current data collection practices.

Mr Schrems argues that Google and Facebook’s new policies do not meet the standard of GDPR. In particular, the complaint focuses on the companies’ means of obtaining users’ consent for their privacy policies — by asking them to check a box in order to access their services.

The lawsuit states that this forces users into an all-or-nothing choice, which violates GDPR’s rules on particularised content.

Speaking to the Financial Times, he said that the existing regimes are clearly fail to comply with GDPR.

“They totally know that it’s going to be a violation,” he said.

“They don’t even try to hide it.”

Both Google and Facebook have disputed the arguments, saying existing measures satisfied GDPR.

“We build privacy and security into our products from the very earliest stages,” Google said in a statement, “and are committed to complying with the EU GDPR.”

Facebook said in its statement: “We have prepared for the past 18 months to ensure we meet the requirements of the GDPR.”