Data Practices of US Companies Being Investigated in New Probes

Google and Facebook might be in trouble again for how they are collecting and using customers’ data. Learn about the newest investigations into their data privacy practices.

Google and Facebook might be in trouble again for how they are collecting and using customers’ data. The European Commission (the European Union’s executive branch) has launched preliminary investigations to determine whether certain data practices used by the companies are breaking the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and antitrust laws.

Both Google and Facebook are already in GDPR hot water. They are being investigated by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission for other possible infractions. As of this writing, these investigations are in the decision-making phase, where it will be determined whether the companies did indeed break the GDPR data privacy rules and, if so, whether any fines will be issued. Google was the first US company to be penalized for GDPR noncompliance. It was fined $57 million [USD] by France’s National Data Protection Commission in January 2019.

The New Allegations

The new investigations of Google and Facebook are in the earliest phase. The European Commission has sent out questionnaires to gather information. “These investigations concern the way data is gathered, processed, used, and monetized, including for advertising purposes,” according to a European Commission spokesperson.

In particular, the Google questionnaire focuses on data related to web browsers, login services, online advertising, local search services, and other services. The Facebook survey concentrates on data related to marketing and advertising services. It also tries to find out details about Facebook’s contracts with app developers and other companies to determine whether Facebook is placing restrictions on data usage in exchange for access to the application programming interfaces (APIs) for its core platform and Instagram site. This practice could potentially violate EU’s antitrust laws.

Stay Abreast of Developments

It is a good idea for all businesses to keep abreast of GDPR developments like these. They serve as a reminder that any US company that processes or stores the personal data of EU citizens is required to comply with GDPR, regardless of its size or industry.

Even if your company does not do business in the European Union, this information highlights the importance keeping your customers’ data private and secure. And having security measures in place to protect this data can help you avoid becoming the victim of a data breach, which can be devastating to your company’s reputation and bottom line.

3D Data Security flickr photo by shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


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