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Facebook facing multiple GDPR investigations in Ireland

(Image credit: Image Credit: Anthony Spadafora)

A large number of American tech companies are facing possible GDPR breach investigations in Ireland, the country’s data watchdog has revealed.

Most US firms that do business in Europe (and that’s pretty much all of them), are headquartered in Ireland due to supposedly more relaxed data laws in the country.

However, after the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a year ago, most data-related investigations in the country have focused on Facebook, with its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram. 

A total of 19 statutory investigations have been launched in the previous year, 11 of which were focused on Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram entities.

Ten of these investigations were launched by the country’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), while nine were instigated by other individuals, or businesses.

Besides Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, the DPC is also investigating Twitter and LinkedIn. A spokesperson said people are mostly concerned about personal data processing and the overall lack of transparency.

"There has been a huge increase in awareness among individuals about their data rights since GDPR came in," says Graham Doyle, the DPC's head of communications.

It’s been a year now since GDPR kicked off, and one of the major surprises is the lack of fines. Even though potential fines go up to €20m, very few companies were actually fined. BBC says a total of $62m in fines were recorded in the first year. Google made headlines when it was fined by the French watchdog for $56m, for "lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalisation".

To learn more about GDPR, read our guide here.

Image Credit: Anthony Spadafora