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Why is Silicon Valley Tangled with Europe’s Data Privacy?

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When the new GDPR regulations were introduced, many businesses mistakenly thought it wouldn’t impact them. Although GDPR is a European law, it does impact international businesses if they are collecting and using data from EU citizens. This means that companies in Silicon Valley are also required to meet the new regulations.

Here, we’ll look at how Silicon Valley is tangled with Europe’s data privacy and the impact it’s had so far.

Why does GDPR affect International businesses?

Although GDPR is a European law, it can impact international businesses to. The regulations were designed to protect EU citizens. This means, if a business is collecting, monitoring and using data relating to EU citizens, it’s going to need to follow the new guidelines.

Similarly, if a European citizen is living abroad, they will still be protected by the GDPR. This is something many international businesses are unaware of.

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What impact has it had so far?

According to RSM, the majority of North American businesses weren’t prepared for the GDPR changes. The biggest challenge has been data storage limitations.

Although the new regulations pose the biggest threat to Silicon Valley’s largest businesses, the majority have remained untouched by the new rules. Facebook is a classic example here. The company has come under major scrutiny in recent years due to the way it handles its data. However, the company appears to be way ahead of regulators.

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One major company which has been hit by the new GDPR guidelines is Google. The brand became the first Silicon Valley giant to face a major fine. CNIL, the French data privacy regulator, hit the company with a staggering €50 million fine due to compliance failures.

A year on from the GDPR regulations being introduced, there have been around 100,000 complaints. However, only a small number of these have led to prosecution. A total of €56 million has been issued in fines. However, as €50 million of this was fined to Google alone, it shows the majority of Silicon Valley companies have remained unaffected by the new regulations.

The challenges international businesses face

Top company Dell recently carried out a study which revealed 97% of global businesses didn’t have a plan for GDPR. One of the main issues is that companies need to completely rethink their business model. The GDPR rules affect everything from technical infrastructure, to strategy and marketing. So, there’s a lot of processes which potentially need to be altered.

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Not only do international companies have to adhere to GDPR, but they also have their own local laws to worry about too. So, it can become pretty complex. For this reason, Silicon Valley businesses need to seek legal advice to ensure they are complying with GDPR to avoid being hit with a potentially large fine.



Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the foreignpolicyi.org started.

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