The Internet and Data Protection Laws are two interconnected concepts that are impacting our lives significantly. A recent need that has emerged is the protection of civilians' personal data in the digital era, so everyone can use the internet freely but also with having a sense of online security. The issue that is emerging though is how the law can keep up with how fast technology is progressing, since 'laws move as a function of years and technology moves as a function of months'. On 25th May 2018, the new GDPR regulation became enforceable; thus it must be adopted by all member states. Since then, several have argued, whether this regulation will have positive or negative consequences for the countries involved. Undoubtedly, this regulation can have a positive impact, primarily because the protection of our data online is based on the fundamental human right of privacy, which is a crucial matter for our democracy that should be not taken lightly and needs to be properly regulated.
A core aspect of the new GDPR regulation is how the definition of 'consent' for user's data has changed, stating that the user should consent only when he/she is adequately informed and that the standards should be raised when it comes to users' sensitive data. This is important, since many civilians provide their consent, without really realising how their data can be used for unlawful purposes. In a very controversial case, widely known as the 'Cambridge Analytica scandal', personal online information was used for unethical purposes. More specifically, this company was accused that it used the information it received from Facebook users to develop strategies for certain political campaigns. Evidently, the misinformation of individuals regarding their online privacy rights can be used as a weapon against them with serious consequences such as altering the outcome of elections.
A new fundamental right of the General Data Protection Regulation is the right to request erasure. This right is crucial to an individual's privacy protection online since people should be able to erase information available about them online, especially information that may potentially damage their reputation. So, will this right become a global one? The answer might be a negative one. In a recent case that involved Google, the Court of Justice of the European Union decided that the tech company must remove data only from European countries. However, it is not obliged to do the same for searches outside the EU. Some consider this result in a positive light arguing that it can be viewed as a development for freedom of expression and believe that every country should have its own regulations regarding this matter. Thus, it remains to be seen how the application of this rule will continue to evolve in the future.
In conclusion, one thing is certain, that when a law is reformed, there will always be two opposing sides criticising it and weighing the consequences of its application. In this case, this regulation made a significant change to the existing legal framework, that was much needed to modernise the legal landscape surrounding our online privacy. In summary, key changes that were introduced and debated in this legal piece were the new standards for consent, harmonisation of data protection rules, the right to be forgotten and whether this regulation will be globally implemented.
Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)  OJ L 119, 1–88
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
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