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NYTimes Clashes with GDPR

May 02, 2019 — Grant Ford

So it looks like a few of the US news organizations have taken aim at the GDPR and shots were fired.

The New York Times published an article on 27 May titled "Next Privacy Battle in Europe is Over this New Law". The first line in the article goes like this:

The new European data privacy legislation is so stringent that it could kill off data-driven online services and chill innovations like driverless cars, tech industry groups warn.

Words like "stringent" and "kill" and "chill" are keywords here, driving the narrative that the EU is a nefarious organization bent on stifling business. This narrative is a phantasm without substance. As I have been working my way through the GDPR so that I, and hopefully you, will better understand the intent of the law, I have a few insights that the author Natasha Singer may want to hear.

The new regulation seems to be rather balanced in its approach. It provides recourse for both the residents of the EU and the corporations and data collectors. I read Ms Singer's article multiple times looking for evidence of her claims, and even as I am writing this I have yet to find any evidence. The regulation is not designed to kill or chill anything, it is designed to clarify the law on who owns what data. It is designed to be a framework for EU member states to formulate their own regulations to help keep their residents safe from unwarranted data collection.

So where does Ms Singer draw her data sources?

The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union called the legislation “overly strict.” The Developers Alliance, a trade group representing Facebook, Google, Intel and dozens of app makers, said it could cost businesses in Europe more than 550 billion euros, or about $640 billion, in annual lost revenue. And DigitalEurope, another tech trade group, said the legislation’s prohibitive approach “seriously undermines the development of Europe’s digital economy.”

What do all of these organizations have in common? Well, they are the ones who have promoted the behavior that the GDPR addresses. Europe has spoken loudly about the need for privacy and this is the response that the press seems to have; I believe they call it "fear-mongering".

Another article by one of my personal favorite news agencies, NPR, titled "3 Things You Should Know About Europe's Sweeping New Data Privacy Law" and written by Aarti Shahani. Mr Shahani is a little more balanced, without the shock and awe (part of the reason I like NPR). He presents both sides of the ongoing arguments about the GDPR. Some say it is anti-competitive and others say that no one trusts internet companies right now anyway, so this will level the playing field. I won't argue one way or another; all I ask is that we all read through the regulation before drawing foregone conclusions about it.

The fact is, the GDPR passed and is now being enforced. Whether it is a good law or not remains to be seen, but until then, perhaps those who haven't read the law and haven't followed the effects of the law should calm down and do a little research before they open their mouths and embarass themselves.

At this point I have two articles covering the first three chapters of the GDPR. If you'd like to read them and join others in waiting for a third article, which will continue with chapter 4 and 5 of the new regulation, you can follow the links below.

And as always, you can follow me on Mastodon for the latest update!