Facebook, Google already facing complaints under new EU data laws

Facebook, Google already facing complaints under new EU data laws
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Facebook and Google have already been hit with complaints alleging that they violated a set of sweeping new data laws that went into effect Friday morning.

The Austrian privacy group Noyb accused the tech giants of breaching a provision in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that requires companies to offer users the ability to opt out of data collection methods but still use their service.

The group said that Google and Facebook are forcing users to accept their data policies as a condition of using their features.

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"Many users do not know yet that this annoying way of pushing people to consent is actually forbidden under GDPR in most cases," Max Schrems, the chairman of Noyb, said in a statement.

The group filed complaints against Facebook, its subsidiaries Instagram and Whatsapp and Google’s Android. The complaints were filed with data authorities in Belgium, France, Germany and Austria.

Facebook responded to the complaints saying that it offers users the ability to opt-out of certain ad targeting practices but that some data collection methods are necessary for its free services.

"We have prepared for the past 18 months to ensure we meet the requirements of the GDPR," Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in a statement. "We have made our policies clearer, our privacy settings easier to find and introduced better tools for people to access, download, and delete their information. Our work to improve people's privacy doesn't stop on May 25."

A spokesperson for Google added in a statement, “We build privacy and security into our products from the very earliest stages and are committed to complying with the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Over the last 18 months, we have taken steps to update our products, policies and processes to provide users with meaningful data transparency and control across all the services that we provide in the EU."

The complaints come just hours after the GDPR went into effect Friday morning, and companies have been scrambling to bring their services into compliance with the new privacy regime.

-Updated 10:12 a.m.