The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

The Rights of Europeans

10/21/2020

Oh, those silly Europeans . . . they’re just so fussy . . . and cute!

Earlier this year, Congress held hearings on the future of Big Tech companies, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft.  Congress is worried they have become too big and too powerful.  Historically, Democrats have always been distrustful of Big Business.  The Republicans are simply worried that Big Tech doesn’t like or trust Republicans.

This week, the DOJ Antitrust Division filled suit against the monopolistic practices of Google.  Like Sherlock Holmes’ “Dog That Didn’t Bark”, it is important to look at the lawsuit that was NOT filed.

Two years ago, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became effective in the European Union.  They believe that privacy is “a fundamental human right”, a foreign concept to Americans.  When companies sell confidential information on YOU, they get paid for it.  You don’t.  Whenever you sign up for Google or Facebook for example, you authorize them to spy on you.  It is perfectly legal here.  In Europe, you have some control over the data collected on you and can even change your mind later.  Those fussy Europeans have rights you don’t have!

How important is this, you ask?  Last year, Facebook settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for “mishandling data” and paid a whopping $5 billion, but that was barely than a quarter of their income for that year.  The lawsuit was NOT for violating “a fundamental human right.”

Individual states, like California and Maine, are trying to give their citizens that right, but there is no movement yet in Washington.  When that begins, the hearings will become “must-see TV.”  It is ironic that this new Age of Trustbusting may be ushered-in by Republicans.

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