BRANDS are blocking Brits from their websites to avoid strict new EU rules – but they could face major fines regardless.
Experts told The Sun that the websites who now no longer serve European users could still be forced to pay millions under new GDPR laws, which came into effect today.
Several major websites, including the LA Times and Chicago Tribune, are inaccessible to Brits today.
That’s because they’re worried they don’t comply with GDPR.
The new EU rules mean companies need your consent to handle your data, or even contact you over email.
If they don’t comply, they can be fined up to €20million or 4% of their annual turnover – whichever is greater.
“The reason that they’re blocking EU users is that the territorial reach of the GDPR has expended to companies based outside the EU,” David Barda, data protection lawyer at Slater and Gordon, told The Sun.
“They obviously decided that they don’t want to collect data on Europeans to avoid the GDPR net.”
But David told The Sun that the GDPR doesn’t just apply to the collection of new info on you. It also applies to information a company already holds on you.
“So they would also need to be making sure that data is compliant. If they’re processing it unlawfully, it could warrant fines,” he explained.
That means blocking Brits isn’t enough to escape the EU’s hulking GDPR fines.
And shutting out users from their websites throws up another problem, too.
GDPR gives Europeans the right to have their data removed from companies at any time.
“They will have to provide you with the opportunity to ask for your data to be removed,” Barda told us.
What is GDPR?
Here’s what you need to know…
- GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation
- It protects the privacy of anyone within the EU or the European Economic Area
- That means anyone who wants to handle the data of Brits has to abide by it
- Companies now have to make sure they have your consent to contact you by email
- And they also need your consent to process your info – like your name or age
- Companies need to declare any data collection, and explain why it’s being collected
- They also need to tell you how long they’ll hold your data, and if it’s being shared with anyone else
- You also have the right to request a copy of your data, and even force companies to delete it
- The GDPR was first proposed in 2012, and finalised in 2016
- But it only came into effect on May 25, 2018
- To avoid GDPR, some companies have stopped serving European users
- But they could still be in breach of GDPR (and receive huge fines) regardless
“So if the website stays down permanently, that could be a problem.”
He said if there’s “no way of contacting these companies”, it could a breach of the GDPR.
The GDPR was originally proposed way back in 2012, and was finalised in 2016.
That means businesses have had two years to prepare for GDPR before the May 25, 2018 deadline – and those who have failed are now shutting out Europeans completely.
“The purpose of the two-year period was to get your house in order. There has to be a date in which rules start,” Barda explained.
Plenty of experts are surprised by the failure of companies to get ready in time.
David Smith, who heads up GDPR technology at business consultants SAS UK, said: “The fact that some of the US’s largest news outlets have been forced to pull their services from the EU market shows the first costs of inaction.
“For too long companies have tried to ignore GDPR; now the rubber is hitting the road, and it’s already seriously costing those who aren’t ready.”
Smith said today’s blocks are “just the first wave”, and that the problem may get even worse.
“What will be really interesting is to see whether companies are paralysed by data subject access requests; closing your website to EU citizens will not protect you from this.
“Get control over the personal information you hold, before you’re forced to slam the brakes on like the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times.”
MOST READ IN TECH
APPY TO HELP
We reveal the six free smartphone apps that could save your life
Brits BLOCKED from websites and video games thanks to GDPR chaos
Is your inbox clogged up with GDPR? These are the emails you SHOULDN’T ignore
‘OVERWHELMED WITH GRIEF’
Popular YouTuber Totalbiscuit dead aged 33 after cancer battle
Annoying GDPR emails get the meme treatment on Twitter as users laugh off the spam
Samsung will ‘turn off’ millions of TV sets across the UK this weekend
Until now, fines on UK companies for poor data handling practices have been pretty small.
The biggest fine imposed by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office was against TalkTalk in 2016.
The telecoms company was smacked with a £400,000 fine for failing to prevent a major hack attack the year earlier, which exposed the personal info of hundreds of thousands of users.
But the EU’s GDPR mega-fines hope to make super-rich companies take better care of your data.
“The new maximum is designed for the Googles and the Facebooks of the world,” Barda told The Sun.
Have you spotted any shut-down websites as a result of GDPR? Let us know in the comments!
- BRITs 2020: Irina Shayk giggles with glee as she puts on a VERY giddy display with her fashion designer pal while leaving Warner after party
- BRITs 2020: Harry Styles catches up with ex Kendall Jenner at the Sony after-party before heading to The Box nightclub together
- BRITs 2020: Mabel displays her jaw-dropping figure in cleavage-baring red minidress as she celebrates her Best Female Artist win and her 24th birthday at wild afterparty
- Jack Whitehall, Paloma Faith and Stormzy weigh in on the sexism row at the BRITS after only ONE female artist wins in the non-gendered categories
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reveal they WILL stop using 'Sussex Royal' brand name from this spring after being banned by the Queen
- Wells Fargo fined for opening millions of fake accounts
- Harry Styles parties with ex Kendall Jenner at boozy Brits 2020
- Billie Eilish cuddles up to Spice Girl Mel C at star-studded BRITs after-party
- BRIT winner Dave hits back at Priti Patel as he renews attack on Boris Johnson
- Harry Styles arrives at BRIT Awards wearing black ribbon after Caroline Flack's tragic death