Is Ireland Too Soft With GDPR Enforcement, Or Just Being Prudent?

Is Ireland Too Soft With GDPR Enforcement, Or Just Being Prudent?
With the first anniversary of the EU’s landmark data privacy law, the GDPR, approaching, views are mixed on how effective it is. Credit: Getty

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), now approaching its first anniversary, has been seen as the world’s best hope of bringing privacy back from the dead – reversing, or at least slowing, the seemingly inexorable march of ever-more-intrusive corporate surveillance by major tech companies.

Its provisions provide for mega fines – up to 4% of a company’s annual global revenue – for misuse of data or violations of users’ privacy. That could easily reach into the billions – Google’s annual revenue is closing in on $140 billion and Facebook’s is around $55 billion.

So amid the blizzard of first-anniversary stories, the most obvious question is: Is it working? How well it is fulfilling its promise so far? And, perhaps not surprisingly, there is a clear mix of opinions on that.

Nicholas Vinocur, technology editor in France for Politico, recently presented the “not so well” case, based on what regularly tends to emasculate the best-intended legislation – what he called a “significant loophole.”

Specifically, the law provides for the “lead regulator” (chief enforcer, in other words) of multi-national firms to be within the country in which those firms have their “main establishment.”

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