Attorney Uses GDPR for Privacy Complaints

The first hour of the first day that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, an Austrian lawyer sued four American social media companies for violating the new rules.

A nonprofit called “NOYB,” short for “None of Your Business” filed the lawsuits against Google, Facebook and two Facebook subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram. The group claims the companies fail to give European users specific control over use of their data, as required by the GDPR.

Complaints filed in France, Belgium, German and Austria ask for $4.3 billion from Google and $1.5 billion each from the other companies. Max Schrems, a privacy lawyer behind the nonprofit, first sued Facebook several years ago for violating European data protection laws. The new law gives his complaints teeth and he expects to win.

Some companies have decided to end operations in Europe to avoid having to adhere to the new regulations because of heavy legal implications, while others like Google and Facebook have large European bases and must work within the guidelines.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has benefited financially from complying to the GDPR because it is gaining ad revenue that other companies have lost because they are not compliant.