What is the economic model of a free website site that brings together 1.2 billion fairly regular users? How does this same social networking website justify being ready to spend 16 billion dollars for an application that is practically free –WhatsApp– that is used by 500 million internet users daily?
This is what Facebook does with personal data; OTAs do it with commercial information thanks to reservations and data provided by each user that opens an account. Each client's travel, orders, spending and preferences are carefully stored and digested to produce tempting offers, travel suggestions, promotional emails.... No need to sign up, the CRM is automated and personal life is dissected.
The justice system is beginning to be concerned about this invasion of privacy and the casual response of social networking sites and online agencies sites to government regulations. Protected by their fictive headquarters, the web giants have heretofore enjoyed obvious impunity with respect to their abuse. Max Schrems' action against Facebook could stimulate reactions from other exasperated clients, relayed by courts who no longer accept the obvious contempt of these American giants for privacy protection laws. "Class action" suits risk growing more numerous in an effort to revive some sense of ethics in this very practical jungle.
"The American giants have a competitive advantage in the market of social media in Europe, because they use personal data of users without any major consequences," observed Andreas Krisch, Member of the Austrian Data Protection Commission and president of the initiative of European Digital Rights (EDRI).
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