The General Data Protection Regulation that came into effect in the European Union late last month doesn't just protect EU residents and citizens within their own political bloc but extends its provisions to all interactions between such individuals and foreign entities. As explained by Semarchy Head of Strategy Michael Hiskey, "If a French citizen is standing in Chicago, that interaction is covered under GDPR." The legal implications of the new legislation are part of the reason why tech giants such as Microsoft and Google are now largely implementing GDPR compliance changes into their products and services on a global level, with the other motive coming in the form of the fact that maintaining and enforcing two significantly different privacy policies is more expensive than opting for a unified one.
Google and Facebook already ended up being targeted by day-one GDPR complaints last month but are far from the only companies that will have to fundamentally change the manner in which they interact with user data on all fronts, Mr. Hiskey believes. "The usual practice of burying a whole bunch of legal text in 4-point font on a 'Terms of Service' page that is rarely read and silently or hastily agreed to, will not fly under the new regulation," the industry veteran told AndroidHeadlines. The fact that GDPR protects all individuals within the European Economic Area also means that differentiating between them based on their IP addresses won't be enough to ensure compliance, as exemplified by the aforementioned Chicago-France example.
In essence, GDPR wants digital companies to explain how and why they collect user data in a manner that "a fifth-grader could understand," Mr. Hiskey concluded. Most of the largest names in the technology industry came out in support of the new regulation, though it's debatable whether they're fully embracing the spirit of the EU's strict law; Facebook in particular recently opted to circumvent the legislation as much as it was legally allowed to. GDPR has yet to survive legal scrutiny as the rulebook is likely to end up being the subject of numerous lawsuits which will shape the manner in which it's enforced across the European Union.