The EU regulates and protects online data privacy differently than the US. The EU has a comprehensive data privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which applies to all organizations that process personal data of individuals located in the EU, regardless of where the organization is located. The GDPR gives individuals more control over their personal data and requires organizations to be more transparent about how they collect, use, and share personal data. The GDPR also includes stiff penalties for organizations that violate the law.
The US, on the other hand, does not have a comprehensive data privacy law. Instead, there are a patchwork of laws that apply to different sectors and types of data. This patchwork of laws can be confusing and difficult to comply with. Additionally, the penalties for violating US data privacy laws are typically much lower than the penalties for violating the GDPR.
As a result of these differences, the EU has a much stronger data privacy regime than the US. This is reflected in the fact that the EU has been ranked as one of the best countries in the world for data privacy, while the US has been ranked much lower.
Here are some of the key differences between the GDPR and US data privacy laws:
- Scope: The GDPR applies to all organizations that process personal data of individuals located in the EU, regardless of where the organization is located. The US data privacy laws, on the other hand, typically only apply to organizations that are located in the US.
- Individual rights: The GDPR gives individuals more control over their personal data. Individuals have the right to access their personal data, to have it deleted, and to object to its processing. The US data privacy laws typically do not give individuals as much control over their personal data.
- Transparency: The GDPR requires organizations to be more transparent about how they collect, use, and share personal data. Organizations must provide individuals with clear and concise information about how their data is being used. The US data privacy laws do not typically require organizations to be as transparent about how they collect, use, and share personal data.
- Penalties: The penalties for violating the GDPR are much stiffer than the penalties for violating US data privacy laws. Organizations that violate the GDPR can be fined up to 4% of their global annual turnover or €20 million, whichever is greater. The penalties for violating US data privacy laws are typically much lower.
Meta Fined Billions over Privacy
On May 22, 2023 the European Union (EU) fined Meta, the parent company of Facebook, a record €1.2 billion (about $1.3 billion) for violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The fine was issued by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), which is the lead regulator for Meta in the EU.
Max Schrems is an Austrian privacy activist who brought the suit against Meta. Schrems is the founder of the non-profit organization None of Your Business (NOYB), which campaigns for stronger data privacy laws. He claims that poor privacy protection laws and enforcement can result in discrimination, harassment, surveillance, censorship and identity theft. Schrems has been a vocal critic of Meta’s privacy practices, and he has filed a number of lawsuits against the company in the EU. He believes that the lack of privacy is a serious threat to individual freedom and democracy. He argues that individuals need to have the right to control their personal data in order to protect themselves from these negative consequences.
The DPC found that Meta had violated the GDPR by transferring the personal data of European users to the United States without adequate safeguards in place to protect that data from U.S. government surveillance. The DPC said that Meta had failed to obtain the necessary consent from users for the transfer of their data, and that it had not put in place any other adequate safeguards to protect the data from U.S. government surveillance.
Meta has said that it will appeal the fine, and it has also said that it is working to comply with the GDPR.
The EU’s fine against Meta is a sign that the EU is serious about enforcing the GDPR. The fine is also a reminder to businesses that they need to comply with the GDPR if they want to operate in the EU.
There are a number of reasons why the US has not adopted the same data privacy policies as the EU. Some of these reasons include:
- Economic concerns: The US tech industry is a major driver of the US economy. Many tech companies rely on the collection and use of personal data to generate revenue. A comprehensive data privacy law could impose significant costs on these companies, which could lead to job losses and a decline in economic growth.
- Political concerns: There is a split in the US political system on the issue of data privacy. Some politicians believe that the government should take a more active role in protecting data privacy, while others believe that the government should not interfere in the free market. This split has made it difficult to pass comprehensive data privacy legislation.
- Cultural concerns: The US has a different cultural attitude towards privacy than the EU. Americans are generally more open about their personal lives than Europeans. This cultural difference makes it more difficult to pass comprehensive data privacy legislation in the US. However, many Americans are concerned about data privacy according to Pew Research.
Despite these challenges, in 2023 there is growing support for comprehensive data privacy legislation in the US. In 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was passed, which is the most comprehensive data privacy law in the US. The CCPA gives consumers more control over their personal data and requires businesses to be more transparent about how they collect and use personal data. Other states are considering passing similar laws, and there is a growing movement to pass a federal data privacy law.
It is possible that the US will eventually adopt a comprehensive data privacy law that is similar to the GDPR. However, it is likely to take some time to overcome the challenges that have prevented the US from adopting such a law in the past.
There are many people fighting for stronger data laws in the US. These people include:
- Consumer advocates: Consumer advocates believe that consumers have a right to control their personal data and that businesses should be held accountable for how they collect and use personal data.
- Privacy advocates: Privacy advocates believe that privacy is a fundamental human right and that the government should take a more active role in protecting privacy.
- Tech companies: Some tech companies are also supportive of stronger data laws. These companies believe that stronger data laws will help to build trust with consumers and create a more level playing field for businesses.
These people are working to raise awareness about the importance of data privacy and to advocate for stronger data laws. They are also working to educate consumers about their rights and how to protect their privacy.
Here are some of the organizations that are fighting for stronger data laws in the US:
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): The ACLU is a non-profit organization that defends civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU has been a vocal advocate for stronger data laws.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): The EFF is a non-profit organization that works to protect digital rights. The EFF has been a leading advocate for stronger data privacy laws.
- Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization that tests products and provides information to consumers. Consumer Reports has been a strong advocate for stronger data privacy laws.
- Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT): The CDT is a non-profit organization that works to protect digital rights. The CDT has been a leading advocate for stronger data privacy laws.
These organizations are working to make the US a more privacy-friendly country. They are working to raise awareness about the importance of data privacy, to educate consumers about their rights, and to advocate for stronger data laws.
Homeland Security Act
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) is a United States federal law that created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The HSA also gave the DHS broad powers to collect and use information about individuals, including information about their internet activity.
The HSA’s provisions on internet privacy are found in Section 215 of the law. This section allows the DHS to collect “any tangible things” from any person or entity without a warrant if the DHS believes that the information is “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” This provision has been used by the DHS to collect information about individuals’ internet activity, including their browsing history, search history, and email communications.
The HSA’s provisions on internet privacy have been criticized by privacy advocates, who argue that they give the DHS too much power to collect and use personal information without a warrant. They also argue that the HSA’s provisions are too broad and that they could be used to collect information about individuals who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
The DHS has defended the HSA’s provisions on internet privacy, arguing that they are necessary to protect the United States from terrorism. The DHS has also argued that the HSA’s provisions are subject to oversight by Congress and the courts.
Protect your personal data
The most important data to protect is your personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, email address, and Social Security number. This information can be used to commit identity theft, which can have a devastating impact on your finances and credit.
Other important data to protect includes your financial information, such as your bank account and credit card numbers. This information can be used to steal your money or make unauthorized purchases.
Your medical information is also important to protect. This information can be used to commit insurance fraud or to discriminate against you.
Finally, it is important to protect your passwords. Passwords are used to access your online accounts, such as your email, bank, and credit card accounts. If your passwords are compromised, hackers can access these accounts and steal your personal information. This article has other specific ways to protect yourself.
Note: This blog was compiled from answers received from asking questions of Google’s Bard. I did not take the time to rewrite the answers because this is an informational article.
Interesting. Thanks for sharing, Paula. I am traveling with my sister, and reading this from a public place. My next email is from my doctor, and I’m thinking I’ll wait til I get home to open it, especially since right before I woke up I dreamt it was robbed. 🤨
(Dreamed I was robbed, not “it.”)
💕🙏Safe and fun travels !
Unfortunately, most people under 40 do not think of “privacy” quite the way those of us older think of it. Most are not bothered by the idea of sharing on social media or providing personal data to make purchases and life-style choices more convenient. This will be the undoing of any efforts to enforce privacy laws.
I was surprised that it’s so different in the UK.