US tech giants risk hefty fines, Irish privacy chief warns


Facebook chief operating officer Sandberg said that a breakup (of US tech companies) might only serve to help competitors from China. — AFP Relaxnews

LONDON: Facebook Inc, Google and Apple Inc are all at risk of hefty fines if the European data protection regulator probing them finds they violated European Union privacy rules.

Helen Dixon, Ireland’s data protection commissioner, said she has about 20 investigations open into big technology companies, including Twitter Inc and Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram platforms.

A number of these cases are “well advanced” and could land on her desk for a decision in the next couple of weeks. That would kick-start the process toward potential fines and it would be “inevitable” for her to consider penalties “where infringements are identified,” she said.

“It would be a most surprising outcome if, of the 20 big tech investigations we have underway, fines were not a feature of the process,” Dixon said in an interview in London, after speaking at Bloomberg’s Sooner Than You Think technology conference. — Bloomberg

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