GDPR impact: Google, Facebook face penalty as US news sites go unavailable

San Francisco,¬†¬†Within hours of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect on Friday, technology giants Google and Facebook have been hit with privacy complaints that could carry fines of up to $9.3 billion in total, media reported.

With regard to privacy, Google, Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram are forcing people to adopt a “take it or leave it” approach which essentially amounts to demanding that users submit to intrusive terms of service, according to the the Austrian privacy-advocacy group, CNET reported on Friday.

“Tonnes of ‘consent boxes’ popped up online or in applications, often combined with a threat, that the service can no longer be used if user (s) do not consent,” the group was quoted as saying in a statement.

The group is asking regulators in France, Belgium, Germany and Austria to fine the companies up to the maximum four per cent of their annual revenue that the GDPR legislation allows.

This could potentially add up to a $4.88 billion fine for Google parent company Alphabet and $1.63 billion for each of Facebook, and its Instagram and WhatsApp services, if European regulators agree with and decide to fine the companies the full amount, the CNET report said.

GDPR, designed to designed to give individuals in the European Union (EU) more rights to control their personal information, came into effect on Friday.

Seen as a measure to by European leaders to control the powers of technology companies, GDPR violations can cost companies either 20 million Euros or four per cent of annual turnover.

As a result of the regulation, several US news outlets were temporarily unavailable in Europe, reported BBC.

“The Chicago Tribune and LA Times were among those saying they were currently unavailable in most European countries,” the rpeort said.

News sites within the Tronc and Lee Enterprises media publishing groups were affected. The websites included the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun.

CNN and the New York Times were among those not affected.

While the EU regulations give individuals greater control over how their data is being collected, processed and used, violations of the norms can cost companies a fortune — either 20 million Euros or four per cent of annual turnover.