Is GDPR set to hit the States?

Posted on October 31, 2018


Here at Engage Web, our lives have never been quite the same since May 25th, when the EU’s legendary GDPR officially came into force and enriched our lives with its saccharine-sweet compliance-oriented caress. So touched were we by this innovative and fascinating piece of legislation, we even felt moved to compose an ode in its glory and now consider ourselves very much prophets of the holy script 2016/679.

OK, I’m being a bit sarcastic. GDPR is very boring, but unfortunately, it’s as important as it is tedious. With recent news that Information Commissioner’s Office fines have gone up by nearly a quarter year on year, the signs are there that the authorities expect businesses large and small to take note of the data protection responsibilities required of them, and will not take “oh, but we’re still getting used to GDPR” as any kind of excuse for security sloppiness.

Here in the UK, and no doubt most of Europe, the four letters are imprinted in most business owners’ minds, but over in the US, GDPR still seems to be viewed as something of a bewildering curiosity. As we’ve mentioned previously, the reaction of many American media companies has been to panic and simply block access to their sites from Europe. We’re now five months on from the introduction of GDPR, and major news websites like and The Chicago Tribune remain shut off to European visitors unless they hide their IP.

These sites are denying themselves a whole continent of traffic, but are they also delaying the inevitable? After all, GDPR was largely introduced because the pace of the digital world over the last 20 years or so had left existing legislation like the EU Data Protection Directive of 1995 somewhat outdated. This change has been spearheaded by American tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple, and some might argue necessitated by these firms’ sometimes questionable use of personal data. So if it’s America at the heart of it, why is it Europe that’s taken serious action?

Speaking at last week’s International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Brussels, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would support the introduction of similar regulations in the US, and then put out a rather pensive tweet on the subject.

Some sources have reported that Facebook’s £500K fine over its part in the Cambridge Analytica revelations is just a drop in the water compared to what it would have been under GDPR. According to, the company could have been fined as much as £17m or 4% of its worldwide turnover. Notably, most of the information in misused came from American accounts, so it seems that for us to have the level of data security we need all over the world, the US needs to jump on board with a GDPR-like law.

Like an up-and-coming band that’s conquered Europe, is it time for GDPR to take on America? Whatever side of the Atlantic you might be on, if you have any questions or concerns about the compliance of your company’s site, why not speak to Engage Web?

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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