Why Europe, not Congress, will rein in big tech

Technology companies are readying themselves for sweeping new privacy rules that go into effect in May 2018 across the European Union. They could face billion-dollar fines if they fail to give European users far more control over their personal information. Whether the US Congress follows the European model, as some lawmakers floated, or whether big tech companies determine it’s too cumbersome to treat the 500 million people of the EU differently from the rest of the world, Europe is likely to keep setting the global pace for aggressive regulation.

At the center of the action is Helen Dixon, Ireland’s data protection commissioner. Because the European operations for many big technology companies are headquartered in low-tax Ireland, Dixon is set to become the top cop for U.S. tech giants including Facebook, Google, Apple, LinkedIn and Airbnb when the new privacy regime comes into force on May 25. She will have the power to slap companies with fines of up to 4 percent of global revenue — which for Facebook could mean penalties of up to $1.6 billion.


Why Europe, not Congress, will rein in big tech