EU Privacy Watchdog Wants To Take Major Big Tech Cases

The head of the European Union’s data protection watchdog said that a landmark privacy law adopted four years ago isn’t being enforced properly and that his agency should handle cross-border Big Tech privacy cases.

As Reuters reported Friday (June 17), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been criticized over the costs of compliance and lengthy investigations that yielded few decisions in enforcing regulations against companies like Google, Apple and Meta.

But Wojciech Wiewiorowski, head of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), said that problem could be solved by turning over big cases to his agency and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).

“I myself share views of those who believe we still do not see sufficient enforcement, in particular against Big Tech,” Wiewiorowski said.

“At a certain moment, a pan-European data protection enforcement model is going to be a necessary step to ensure real and consistent high-level protection of fundamental rights to data protection and privacy across the European Union,” he added.

According to Wiewiorowski, this could mean that critical investigations, based on a certain threshold, would be done at a central level, overseen by Europe’s top court.

Reuters spoke to a European Commission official, who said allowing the EDPB to take on Big Tech cases would mean altering GDPR rules, a move the commission is unlikely to undertake under its current leadership due to lack of time.

This week saw three Big Tech firms making concessions in Europe in the face of investigations. Amazon said it will share marketplace data with its sellers and improve rivals’ product visibility on its platform if the European Commission will end its 2020 probe and not fine the company.

Google, meanwhile, offered to let rival ad intermediaries place advertisements on YouTube as a way of potentially resolving a European antitrust investigation. And Meta Platforms agreed to make changes in France regarding that country’s online ad rules.

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