Europe, Enacting New Privacy Laws, Becomes World’s Foremost Tech Watchdog

Europe, Enacting New Privacy Laws, Becomes World’s Foremost Tech Watchdog

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European officials have also been advising Brazilian authorities. Giovanni Buttarelli, the European data protection supervisor, is set to deliver a recorded video message at a policy event in Brazil next week. And last month, a senior data protection official in the European Commission testified before the Brazilian Senate committee drafting the country’s legislation.

“Many countries are interested in signing a trade agreement with the European Union, and then privacy becomes an important precondition,” said Mr. Buttarelli.

Europe’s fingerprints can be seen elsewhere in the world, too. Japan last year passed a data protection law creating a new independent online privacy board, and Tokyo and Brussels are finalizing the details of a data transfer deal. South Korea is considering new privacy rules, while Israel has adopted updated requirements for disclosures of data breaches — both share elements with the European rules.

Europe’s influence is not going unnoticed by America’s tech giants, which have long complained that Brussels unfairly focuses on them.

The new privacy rules are part of that “strong European tradition” of policing industries to protect the environment or public health, even if it does “constrain business,” said Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s top antitrust official.

To meet G.D.P.R.’s requirements, Facebook and Google have deployed hundreds of employees to overhaul how they give users access to their own privacy settings and to redesign certain products that may have sucked up too much user data. Facebook said it had roughly 1,000 people working on the initiative globally, including engineers, product managers and lawyers.

In Brussels, the Silicon Valley companies are fast adding lobbyists to influence other European regulations before they spread. Google and Microsoft are already among the five biggest spenders on lobbying in the European Union, with budgets of about 4.5 million euros, or $5.3 million, each, according to LobbyFacts.eu, which tracks such spending. Facebook, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, was in Brussels this week, doubled its lobbying budget last year to roughly €2.5 million, the watchdog site said.

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