Four years of slow enforcement: a new EU law will save the GDPR

It’s been four years since the European Union’s flagship law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), went into effect, yet slow enforcement is rendering it nothing more than pixels on a screen. The European Commission must step up and save the GDPR — by introducing a supporting legislative act to bolster its application.

Access Now’s new report, Four year under the GDPR: how to fix its enforcement, unpacks the problems with the application of the law, and lays out concrete recommendations for a solution. Read the snapshot

“After four years, the law’s impacts are hard to see, not because the law is flawed — it can change the way our data is secured across the continent — but because it continues to be ignored,said Estelle Massé, Europe Legislative Manager and Global Data Protection Lead at Access Now. “Data Protection Authorities are making efforts to bring the GDPR promises to life but political and legal hurdles are stopping progress. We need the European Commission to create clear and binding rules on enforcement and cooperation and to further empower the European Data Protection Board.”

Red flags over the unequal and slow enforcement of the GDPR have been waving for years. Thousands of people across Europe have filed complaints to their local Data Protection Authorities, but due to slow resolution of cross-border cases and bottlenecks, and differences in national procedural laws, very few of those have even been acknowledged. 

Yet, issues with the application of the law go beyond its enforcement, and start at the very moment someone tries to report a data protection violation. A new study commissioned by Access Now from The Data Protection Law Scholars Network, The right to lodge a data protection complaint: OK, but then what? An empirical study of current practices under the GDPR, highlights exactly how unequal the right to lodge a complaint is across Europe. 

Access Now has been a long supporter of the GDPR, and continues to firmly believe in its potential to safeguard data protection. Calling for a complementary legislation to the GDPR entails political risks of re-opening past lobbying wounds and battles, but doing nothing also means risking giving up on the GDPR ever being fully and equally applied across the EU, and with it, the rights it is meant to bring to all. 

Access Now stands ready to defend the GDPR’s rights and principles and work with the EU institutions and data protection authorities to improve the application and enforcement of the law.  

Read the report and full recommendations.