back to article Post-Facebook fallout: Americans envy Europeans' privacy – top EU data watchdog

The US’s days of "splendid isolation" when it comes to privacy regulations are numbered, Europe’s top data protection watchdog has warned. The past six weeks have put a spotlight on data protection like never before, exposing legal but questionable data use, as well as potential misuse and political manipulation to an extent …

  1. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Oh, is Europes 'top data protection watchdog' now going to use his influence to bring that important whistleblower in from the cold and protect him from the U.S?

    'Splendid isolation'? 'me arse' if such a humane gesture was actually carried out.

    The eagle-minded federals would have him within six months. It's all spin and self-congratulation.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      The problem are extradition agreements - on which Buttarelli has no power - an giving him asylum is a delicate political decision, which has to be taken at the highest level, and would require to anger US, a price no one is willingly to pay.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "would require to anger US, a price no one is willingly to pay."

        I wonder how true that is anymore. I've seen a number of nations willing to risk angering the US over the past several months, and the "price" for doing so doesn't appear to be that high.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "I've seen a number of nations willing to risk angering the US"

          In EU? Many don't like Trump - which mostly angers himself on everything -, but long time ties with US are a different matter. And just look at the Macron show in Washington. Probably, the only heavyweight critic has been Merkel.

          Of course nobody is going to accept a trade war without doing nothing, because the price of doing nothing could be higher.

          Still, giving asylum to Snowden is a delicate matter because of civil and military agreements - just look how the CIA agent who performed a "rendition" in Milan were eventually pardoned last year...., without much return but poking the US in the eye.

          And after all EU governments, like all government, don't like whistleblowers much as well, and don't want to make their life easier.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "US can't operate in 'splendid isolation' – Giovanni Buttarelli"

      Well they COULD. They would just have to pay LOTS in fines to continue to operate in the world's largest single market in the EU.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Clear History' feature and other spin

    Interesting how Zuk@H8te never mentioned 'Clear History' for Shadow Profiles of Non-Users. Talk about an empty sound-bite full of exceptions and caveats, that will take a long time to implement anyway apparently. While Zuk converses with his real users: investors / advertisers etc. Maybe that's the whole idea - Stall!!!... This article is full of over-confidence and spin too.

    Overall, Privacy is a monster problem that can't be legislated for, just acquiesced to. Innovation / jobs versus Privacy always leads to a hornets nest of backroom compromises. Once lawmakers actually go to legislate, they'll see thorny bits popup in much the same way as the north / south border issue is such a complicated issue right now in other political arenas.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "Overall, Privacy is a monster problem that can't be legislated for"

      Wrong. As any regulation, it won't be perfect. But establishing sound rights which makes easier to go after violations matters a lot - because without it's just a "free-for-all", and the 800lb gorilla wins.

      After all, there's really no innovation in the big data slurping - the enabling technologies weren't created for this "business", it just happened they could bring it to a bigger level with far less effort than in the past. AC Nielsen is over 90 years old, so really nothing new. Just bigger scale.

      Anyway, the monopolies they are creating are destroying jobs, not creating new ones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'Anyway, the monopolies they are creating are destroying jobs, not creating new ones.'

        Sure you and me know this, but politicians are suckers! What I'm saying overall in the first post is... We need some real innovation in Legislating Digital. Its about time politicians and lawmakers realized their limitations and re-tooled / re-schooled. Max Schrems has been the only real hero to praise here. Without him, Facebook App-slurp of Friends wouldn't even have stopped!

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "Its about time politicians and lawmakers realized their limitations"

          It's clear a lot of politicians need an "upgrade" because they are little aware of many "digital" areas. It's also up to voters to select better ones and not old gits who just seek re-election.

          Still, many EU countries introduced privacy rights well before Facebook and Google became data slurping molochs. In Italy, the first act was introduced in 1996, and updated in 2003. Similar legislation existed in other countries. GDPR didn't come out of the blue.

          It's because of such regulations that Schrems could win - lawmakers weren't fully stupid, after all.

          Sure, it's needed to work better and faster, because digital robber barons are quick to find holes and grey areas - and also they have a great power on trying to control what people think - and that could scare politicians in two ways, a good one, and a bad one.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "Its about time politicians and lawmakers realized their limitations"

            "It's also up to voters to select better ones and not old gits who just seek re-election."

            Better old gits with some knowledge of what privacy means than millennials who've never heard of it. That's the irony of the situation.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 'Anyway, the monopolies they are creating are destroying jobs, not creating new ones.'

          "We need some real innovation in Legislating Digital. Its about time politicians and lawmakers realized their limitations and re-tooled / re-schooled. Max Schrems has been the only real hero to praise here."

          While I totally agree re Max Schrems it still remains the case that without the legislation that had already been made he wouldn't have had a means to do what he had.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: 'Clear History' feature and other spin

      " Innovation / jobs versus Privacy always leads to a hornets nest of backroom compromises."

      Those two aren't natural opposites where you need to trade one to get the other. It's just that the pro-spying corporations want to frame it that way because they don't want to stop spying.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love how in denial this guy and the rest of the EU bureaucracy is about the UK leaving.

    Its almost like they don't respect democratic election results, sort of like when the Treaty of Lisbon got rejected by the Irish and they re-ran elections until they could rig the result how they wanted it.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Don't feed the troll.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      like when the Treaty of Lisbon got rejected by the Irish and they re-ran elections until they could rig the result how they wanted it.

      Except it wasn't. The EU presented a proposal, it was rejected. The EU went away, thought on it, came back with a modified proposal which was considered acceptable.

      This is how deals have been made and agreements reached since time immemorial. There's nothing wrong with that. It is utterly false to suggest the same deal was presented time after time with the Irish ultimately giving in to that so often presented by EU-haters.

      It is simply EU demonisation and propaganda. Much like claiming if we stay in the EU we "will" end up like Greece or Spain. Never like Germany or others who are doing rather well through membership.

      Don't feed the troll.

      I would generally agree but there are a lot of people who believe such lies and propaganda because they are said so often people come to believe them.

      Lies and propaganda not being addressed for decades played a huge part in people hating the EU and wanting to leave.

      1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

        Re: there are a lot of people who believe such lies and propaganda

        Stop making excuses for them; they're pitiful losers in Life's game, never made anything of themselves and seek to blame everyone else for that failing. They aren't people, they're drooling retards - technically people, insofar as they afen't wombats, for instance, but not more than that. The rest of us have been subject to the same neo-liberal/libertarian smoke and mirrors game for just as long (if not longer) and we didn't fall for it. Ergo those who did are retards, Q.E.D.

        Patriotism is the last bolt-hole of the loser … which explains the pathetic “we won, you lost, ner ner nerner ner” posturing of brexiters: not even significant enough to have been bullied at school, their lives notable only for their lack of notability and a distinct absence of career (never mind prospects let alone advancement), they are inferior by whatever standards society wishes to judge them — if they were a football team they’d be at the bottom of the Sunday School league.

        Hence the sore winner syndrome (seldom have the words ‘butt hurt’ been more appropriate) — they may only have come first in a shooting themselves in both feet competition but they finally won something, however risible, and they’re not gonna let anyone forget it ever (never mind soon) — two world wars (thanks to their great/grandparents, not themselves) … one World Cup (so long ago it’s embarrassing and, I’d be keeping quiet about it myself lest anybody draw attention to how pathetic my record of achievement were) … and now Brexshit.

        Brexiters: the losers who put the ‘little’ in England.

        If it weren’t so tragic, it’d be hilarious.

    3. fran 2

      Eh, the Irish got several important derogations for Lisbon II

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Google, the giant information vacuum cleaner'

    So much for the EU getting all this right vs the US:

    .

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-02/eu-data-privacy-regulations-could-give-google-more-power

    .

    "The disingenuous way companies are attempting to comply with the letter, not the spirit, of GDPR is only part of the problem with the new privacy rule, which goes into effect May 25. For publishers already forced to accept Google’s near monopoly on programmatic advertising on their sites, the new regulation could make things worse."

    Google has altered its ad policies to comply with the GDPR. The changes affect all businesses running its ad modules or using the U.S. company’s programmatic advertising tools offered under the DoubleClick umbrella brand, which is the biggest digital advertising platform. Most publishers sell their inventory through Google, and many derive a majority of their revenue from Google-run services. Now, Google has told them it intends to act as controller of any personal data provided by the publishers under the GDPR. That means the internet giant will need publishers to obtain consent from readers or subscribers for its use of the data. The publishers will essentially have no say about how Google uses the data they hand over. The important thing is that if they fail to obtain consent, Google won’t serve ads on their sites.

    The GDPR defines a data controller as an entity that decides how and for what purpose data will be processed; it can use “data processors” to do it on its behalf. For example, a publisher that has collected a detailed subscriber database and now wants to target ads to the subscribers is a data controller, and the provider of the targeted advertising solution is the processor.

    "That’s not how Google wants to play it: It intends to control the data. This creates a trust problem for publishers. They aim to build close, sometimes emotional relationships with readers, listeners and viewers. But, under Google’s terms, they’ll have to tell these customers explicitly that their data will be handed over to a third party, Google, without specifying what Google will do with it."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      EU Privacy Rules May Give Google More Power

      "The entire ecosystem -- the big data harvesters, the advertisers, the content producers -- is complicit in the current privacy-destroying business model. Different models, from ad-free subscription-based options to ones that pay people to see ads, exist, but they would have to be much more broadly accepted to make them industry standards.

      In the end, the responsibility lies with us, the readers, the customers. If we refuse to endorse the prevalent business model, in which we are the product, not a principal, and if we withhold our consent to the commercial use of our data, the industries will be forced to offer us different models. The GDPR gives us the power to start changing things; it’s likely that we’ll squander it, but at least we should know we have it for a brief moment now."

    2. fluffybunnyuk

      Re: 'Google, the giant information vacuum cleaner'

      Deja vu... i'm sure i posted this 20hours ago...

      That is namely that the onus is on the publishers to ensure they use companies that are GDPR compliant, if google is not fully GDPR compliant then the publisher has no choice but to move their stuff elsewhere.

      The ultimate consequence of google not being fully GDPR compliant is that all EU companies will have to move elsewhere. Advertising-wise thats going to hit google really hard.

      Oh yes, seems i did.

      Google can't control the data. Under GDPR the individual has ownership of ALL their personal data. This is the whole point of GDPR. There is no squeaky lawyeresque get out clause. The bottom line under GDPR is in the test of any company vs the individual, generally speaking unless theres a good reason like law enforcement which is provisioned for , the individual wins.

      The problem is with american companies generally viewing it as a tick box exercise, and business as usual. The belief that they can do the bare minimum and everything will be ok.

      Having chased all GDPR non-compliers out of our business chain mostly the bull******* who pretend compliance but when asked to demonstrate it as GDPR requires actually can't and thus fail, we've found new companies, better companies to do business with.

      When we have been contacted by customers with GDPR queries we demonstrate we dont pollute their web browser, that we only use their data in a granular fashion according to opt-in tick box options all unticked by default. We have easy account deletion, and on top of that we offer to show them how its done with a demonstration machine and dummy data they can examine for themselves.

      As a result of this business is booming, because word gets around, and we're scooping up business left right and centre from us companies.

      Hey you know i think i'm warming to self-centred america and trump now. Keep it up please theres nothing like company directors bringing me big growth reports :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Google, the giant information vacuum cleaner'

      ", Google has told them it intends to act as controller of any personal data provided by the publishers under the GDPR"

      They can tell them whatever they like.

      However, If Google process personal data then they are also a data processor and need to act accordingly. Or pay up to 4% of global revenue to subsidise the EU. Per breach! Whatever they get they get advertisers to sign wont effect the implementation of GDPR.

    4. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: 'Google, the giant information vacuum cleaner'

      "That’s not how Google wants to play it: It intends to control the data. This creates a trust problem for publishers. They aim to build close, sometimes emotional relationships with readers, listeners and viewers. But, under Google’s terms, they’ll have to tell these customers explicitly that their data will be handed over to a third party, Google, without specifying what Google will do with it."

      Google has written new terms and conditions, indeed. That they are highly likely contrary to the GDPR is important. I am also highly dubious that a company can write a contract saying that if they are found guilty of a crime that you agree to pay their fine for them.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: 'Google, the giant information vacuum cleaner'

        "This creates a trust problem for publishers."

        No more so than already exists. If Google is involved in anything at all, I trust it a lot less.

  5. Fred Dibnah

    "Buttarelli added that, in his view, the implications of Brexit on data protection “are being clearly underestimated” in the UK."

    They surely are, on data protection and every other fucking thing.

  6. Whitter
    Black Helicopters

    Privacy Shield is Acceptable?!

    I put his credibility in the bin right there.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GDPR is an example of the kind of thing the EU does very well. You'd be nuts to leave the EU.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "GDPR is an example of the kind of thing the EU does very well. You'd be nuts to leave the EU."

      For the £160 million a week net it costs us to belong to the EU, we can write our own regulations thanks very much. This type of organisational thing is actually stuff that the UK does very well. Hence for instance why the whole planet uses Prince 2 and ITIL from the UK.

      1. Avatar of They
        Thumb Down

        We could

        However, we then have to accept that we can't tell 27 other countries to do what we tell them, and they won't agree as they have their own tried and tested method that works. Which we will have to agree to depending on which trade we want.

        And lets not forget, we can't as a government organise a high speed railway (or its successor), a third runway for heathrow, military spends, NHS funding, anything that has Brexit attached. And you think we can organise a GDPR replacement on our own. LOL.

        160 million, where are the facts? Cabinet office said we had 15 to 50% of laws from Europe when it started, if they don't know what EU interaction was, how can you be sure your numbers tally. Need to factor in cost versus benefit, something missing in most numbers from AC's on forums.

        And most EU budgets were actually held by our government under the EU flag. Only the CAP was a purely EU budget. Maybe I hang around MEP's more and have a more objective view on the mess we are all being dragged into..

      2. James 51 Silver badge

        It's going to cost a lot more than that to recreate all the paperwork that the EU currently does such as nuclear material regulations, medicine regulations, standards for testing flammability in clothes etc etc. That the UK will have money by leaving is one of the greatest and easiest to prove wrong brexit lies.

      3. anothercynic Silver badge

        Dear @AC...

        ...

        For the £160 million a week net...

        Stop smoking what you're smoking. It's costing us a shedload more than £160 million net a week to do stuff on our own. Yes, we might be good at Prince2 and ITIL, but that does not automatically translate into "everyone's gonna follow *our* regulations because we're that shit hot" once we leave the EU. Perhaps it's because we're in the EU that Prince2 and ITIL are more acceptable. YOU don't know, _I_ don't know. It's a whole bunch of unknowns and I prefer *not* finding out which unknown is a better unknown than the devil I know (i.e. being inside the EU and being able to influence what the EU does from *inside* than from the outside).

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
        Pint

        "Hence for instance why the whole planet uses Prince 2 and ITIL from the UK."

        Nice one, A/C. A lot of whooshes there. I think el Reg is starting to accumulate a lot of readers with poor comprehension.

        1. DropBear Silver badge
          Devil

          Nonono. Forget "readers". Think ad impressions! Ad impressions...!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In the end, the responsibility lies with us, the readers, the customers. If we refuse to endorse the prevalent business model, in which we are the product, not a principal, and if we withhold our consent to the commercial use of our data, the industries will be forced to offer us different models."

    Try that, you will fail, worst that that in many countries you will starve. Even in Britain I doubt you can get healthcare without supplying your data, data that is you, or allowing the healthcare industry to use and sell the data you create with them.

    In a real democracy the people, individuals, might have some power and rights but that system does not exist at any scale, would citizens have voted to export jobs and import workers, to stagnate wages and increase taxes? No, and on occasion when they get the chance to say that in a ballot they do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "citizens have voted to export jobs and import workers,"

      Actually, they do every time they buy cheaper Chinese (or similar) stuff instead of more expensive items produced elsewhere. It's true that today you have no choice, but sometimes you still have. And instead of spending more to sustain western businessmen, people will buy the cheap stuff. Until they are too replaced by foreign workers.

      1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

        Re: "would citizens have voted to export jobs and import workers"

        They terk er jerbs from the static pool of available employment opportunities that we are meritocratically entitled to by being superior to furriners and immigants by virtue of our having been born here by the sweat of our brows, so they did!

  9. JohnFen Silver badge

    I'm an American

    And I deeply envy the GDPR. We desperately need something similar here in the US.

    1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

      Re: I'm an American

      I'm so sorry for you - that must be awful.

      [Think Austin Powers ; ) ]

  10. Cardinal
    Devil

    Camelot and Google - Arise Sir Spyalot - (Here's the keys to the Kingdom!)

    Trying to get used to the new NoScript layout, I've noticed that I CANNOT now access my National Lottery account without enabling a jscript open gate for google.com and gstatic.com. (Portcullis up, Drawbridge and Pants down!)

    Will this be permitted under GDPR?

    Under the old NoScript I had all scripts forbidden except those I specifically allowed, but had never noticed Google asking to peer over my shoulder. My eyesight's not the best these days though..

    1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

      Re: Camelot and Google - Arise Sir Spyalot - (Here's the keys to the Kingdom!)

      Add uMatrix to the mix and you'll get a bit more control - uMatrix blocks it at the domain, NoScript in the browser.

      It's not much of an improvement but every little helps, eh?

      The question is still valid, however, and I suspect a lot will go unconfronted for a long time because there's simply too much to keep on top of: Google will simply farm it out to some third-party and a whole new case will have to be started. Eventually, it'll be Google Europe (or whatever) and then there'll be the case by the next Max Schrems as it transpires that the Privacy Fig Leaf Shield terms they were operating under didn't actually mean anything once your data leaves the EU.

      It's a start but, basically, we won't see anything like real privacy laws that are to our benefit being enacted until much more serious changes are made to the way we run our societies and the world than can be achieved by even the E.U., let alone by an (internationally at least) effectively unenforcable law such as the GDPR. You can stop companies having business premises in the E.U., or oblige them to, whatever you like, but either way around, you aren't going to stop them offering their services from abroad without a Great Firewall of Europe, or from breaking that law from within the E.U. (sure, you can punish them afterwards, but it's still too late).

      The GDPR is first step in the right direction. Whether we ever reach our destination is an entirely different matter though, and I don't expect to see us get there in my own lifetime, if we ever do.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regulators are useless, they still aren't doing enough!

    I've heard enough. Is there any kind of utopia on this rock where:

    :-

    #1. Facebook is banned (setup Tor/VPN if you want this cesspit)

    #2. The default Search-Page on every Browser is Startpage.com

    #3. Every phone comes Google-free with only 1 app installed: Signal

    #4. Hosts Ad filters+Adblockers come pre-installed on every device

    #5. The default OS installed on every new PC is Linux not Win-10

    #6. Your new Car doesn't Spy / Track you / Phone Home / Play Ads

    #7. IoT comes first with utility / security / privacy, not 'Slurp n Track'

    #8. Email is locally hosted, @gmail / @outlook / @yahoo is shunned.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd let them have my search history and facebook info in exchange for my freedom of speech. People are getting arrested daily in UK for posting stuff on facebook/twitter. Several European countries have no-go zones from refugee violence and the press is instructed not to talk about it. The governments hide statistics, and when they do they call middle-eastern refugee's "asain". They literally change the saturation of photos to make refugee's appear white before releasing them, its even got a term white-washing. You think I'm envious of Europeans Privacy? I'm terrified by how much "privacy" their governments have.

    1. PapaD

      re: I'm terrified by how much "privacy" their governments have.

      You got any credible sources for all of those claims?

    2. fluffybunnyuk

      Your clearly a troll. Im British but even i understand that there have been exemptions in the USA. Free speech isnt the right to say anything.

      Lets list them:-

      Inciting imminent lawless action

      Fighting words

      True threats

      Obscenity

      Child pornography

      Torts :-

      Defamation

      Invasion of privacy

      Intentional infliction of emotional distress

      Political spending:-

      Campaign contributions

      Independent political expenditures

      Government speech

      Public employee speech

      Student speech

      National security:-

      Military secrets

      Inventions

      Nuclear information

      Weapons

      Censorship

      The right of freedom of speech within private shopping centers owned by others has been vigorously litigated under both the federal and state Constitutions, notably in the cases Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner (1972) and Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980).

      What the heck? I dont recall ever having my speech censored in a shopping centre...

      Crawl back under your rock of ignorance. Oh and please save me from stupid americans who dont even understand their own 1st amendment. I'm off to burn an american flag as allowed under Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code (4 U.S.C. § 8k)

    3. GIRZiM Bronze badge

      Re: they call middle-eastern refugee's "asain"

      No, they don't. They might call them 'Asian' (maybe), but they sure don't call them 'asain'.

      And the rest of the venomous bile you spewed there wasn't much better; I'm not surprised you posted anonymously - I'd be ashamed to be you too.

      When you can speak English as well as most of the refugees from parts of the world torn apart by the bombs made by the western powers and dropped for profit, I'll stop thinking of you as a 'retard.'

      When you've been to the U.K., you can can talk about it - people are not being arrested daily in UK for posting stuff on Facebook/Twitter.

      The same goes for Europe; try visiting it instead of Infowars and Prison Planet - European countries do not have no-go zones from refugee violence

      Until then though, I think I speak for everyone who isn't a retard when I say "Maybe the hospital should up your meds before they let you out on day release."

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