Here in the U.S., we have very few privacy protections, mostly because our lawmakers have ceded that ground to a few tech billionaires who now control our discourse, our news, and, well, almost everything. Our data protections, such as they are, are done by state. California, ironically perhaps, is one state that stands out for its attempts to protect data, which it got through ballot propositions like Proposition 24, the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”).
But the European Union has taken a much stronger stance to protect data, which translates to human rights, democracy (dependent upon shared set of facts) and its citizens. As a result, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission announced a stunning penalty on Monday for Meta/Facebook, ordering Facebook to delete illegally collected EU data from storage and fining them a “record” (according to the New York Times) $1.3 billion in fines.
“Facebook has to delete all of its illegally collected EU data from storage. They’re also being fined $1.3 BILLION but as I’ve said that’s the insignificant hit to its surveillance capitalism business model,” Jason Kint reported on what he called the “Earth quaking” news.
Here is the full decision out of Ireland. Earth quaking. And unique to Facebook because it tried to use contractual clauses for surveillance and transfer of data to the US. https://t.co/w9ptSiVZPK
— Jason Kint (@jason_kint) May 22, 2023
Kint added to his take, “Bottom-line, you were breaking the law when we filed this, and you kept on breaking the law until today is how I read this thing. And our order is therefore proportionate to protect our people’s human rights.”
Can you imagine the high court in the United States caring about human rights this much? I can’t.
Basically, the European Union doesn’t want data about its users sent to the U.S. because they don’t think it’s protected from American spy agencies.
“The penalty, announced by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, is potentially one of the most consequential in the five years since the European Union enacted the landmark data privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation,” the Times considered.
But of course, Meta is appealing and meanwhile the U.S. and EU are working on a data sharing agreement, so all of this might be irrelevant.
What remains relevant, however, is our own lawmakers’ unwillingness to go to bat for our data privacy rights and the rule by unelected tech lords over our lives, set to get so much worse as AI improves.
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Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.