I guess I’m not the only one who has suffered from a constant headache last week. Enterprises – whether for profit or not – were struck with the minefield that is GDPR compliance.
The European Commission proudly tweeted that “Europe asserts its digital sovereignty and gets ready for the digital age.” Europe is ready for the digital age – at least on paper. Literally. The legislation created tons of paperwork for businesses. The truth is, Europe is already in the digital age despite the EU.
I think the EU is an important institution and it is worth to be its member, but it is very difficult to be an apologist of those who run it. After the introduction of a legislation such as GDPR, is it really that difficult to understand why so many people believe such myths as the restriction on the curvature of bananas?
Just writing this article took twice the normal time for having to click away policy updates on websites. Imagine how much time it took each company or other entity subject to GDPR to write these new policies, anxious that it complies with GDPR, as even most lawyers aren’t sure how legal practice will work once lawcases start burdening courts.
With legislation of this kind, it is hard to dismiss criticism that the EU is not friendly towards business, it’s detached from reality, and that as such it is largely a socialist institution, because GDPR is very much like affirmative consent at UC Berkeley. Of course, the EU is much more complex than that, but GDPR stirred up a lot of negative feelings towards Brussels. It is enough to have a quick glance at any online newspaper article on the topic (if it loads at all) to notice that the majority of opinions is not supportive of the legislation.
People took to ridiculing GDPR, going as far as developing an app that will lull you to sleep by reading GDPR regulation to you. However, the EU’s headache-inducer could be yet another tool for Eurosceptics and radicals to attack the institution, weakening alliances within Europe and helping Russia.
The EU is not helping its own cause in the least. Jean-Claude Juncker disgraced himself and the EU with his veneration of Marx, a man, whose disgusting ideas caused the deaths of 100 million people, and who is now, with the fall of communism in Europe, cool again, as the left “appropriated” the human rights achievements of classical liberals.
In Hungary, GDPR will give the government yet another way to harass NGOs. With a new anti-NGO law in the making, the illiberal governing party Fiedesz can go on reporting NGOs which – despite their best efforts – failed to write an adequate policy that complies with the EU legislation.
Maybe GDPR won’t be exploited, maybe court cases won’t strike down SMEs, maybe the Hungarian government won’t try to finish off NGOs with it (to their credit, the Hungarian authorities, realizing the chaos, decided not to punish but only to caution GDPR transgressors for the time being). But this is a lot of maybes. It would be better if the EU realized that many of its actions are backfiring and causes anti-EU sentiments. Let’s hope the flood of dissatisfied voices over GDPR will consitute a wake up call for the EU legislators and bring them back from their secluded slumber.