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I'd guess he's referring to your (likely correct) implication that the regulators will give more weight to your "friendly and helpful" behavior than to how the text of the law applies to the facts of your case.

The concept of the rule of law was invented primarily in countries that now belong to the EU. Is there no one left there who still thinks it's important? It's not even that people argue "the GDPR couldn't be less vague without loopholes, and this is important enough that it's worth the cost". The idea that a powerful human's best attempt to objectively apply stable, published rules is generally better than a powerful human's unrestrained discretion just seems foreign to most commenters here.

If you ran an organization publicly associated with George Soros in Hungary (whose prime minister has described him as an "enemy of the state"), then would you still feel good relying on your friendly relationship with the government? What steps would you take to comply with the GDPR as it's currently written, if you couldn't rely on the goodwill of the people interpreting it? With a sufficiently corrupt government, there's nothing you can do; but the point where a judge will accept an obvious lie tends to come long after the point where a regulator lets politics disambiguate a vague standard.

The GDPR is a regulation and not a law, thusly the implications are different.

If you produce a device that accidentally violates FCC guidelines, would you rather be immediately punished to the extend of the regulation or rather work with the FCC to rectify the issue and how to fix it for affected customers?

The other reason is that yes the GDPR is vague. It must be because in the past corporations have abused loopholes and the only way to prevent people abusing loopholes without punishing people who don't abuse them is to make it vague and then decide on their behaviour.

And again, these are corporations, legal persons. They don't even have the remotely same rights as a natural person.

At least in the USA, a regulation has the force of law. To say "regulation" instead of "law" just means the rule gets its legal power indirectly from some statute (which probably also limits the scope of the rules), instead of directly from the legislative process. I'd thought the EU was similar. Is it not?

If I ship a device that fails to comply with FCC rules, then I would prefer that the maximum penalty provided by law is also a fair and reasonable one. I understand that most regulated fields are complex enough that if we don't give regulators some discretion, then the law will be filled with loopholes and impossibly complex; but I would like to give them the minimum discretion they need to do their job. I think the GDPR fails that test spectacularly. Do you really think they need the statutory authority to fine someone 20M EUR for their semi-commercial side project that made $1k lifetime total? If not, then why give it to them?

The GDPR applies to natural persons too. Imagine if it didn't! Facebook could just contract all the creepy stuff to a sole proprietorship operated by Mark Zuckerberg...

ETA: From https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-making-process/types-eu-la...

> Regulations are legal acts that apply automatically and uniformly to all EU countries as soon as they enter into force, without needing to be transposed into national law. They are binding in their entirety on all EU countries.

So not quite the same as the US, though maybe some analogy in that the regulation is still "secondary law", subordinate to the EU treaty? But I don't see how you can describe a set of rules "binding in its entirety" as anything but law.

To my understanding the EU handles it differently. Regulation as opposed to law is supposed to be enforced in a guiding manner, recognizing that sometimes you accidentally don't comply or there is otherwise a differing implementation. You can somewhat also see that in how the EU ramps up regulation in case nobody is playing ball.

Stage 1 is when they want to fix it and they express wishes that the industry changes their ways. Stage 2 is the cookie law and Smartphone USB charging. A very vague regulation or law is implemented as a sort of warning for the industry to better go and fix it. Stage 3 is nuclear; GDPR.

The smartphone industry is as mentioned at Stage 2. The EU expressed wishes to reduce the charger garbage, nobody did anything, so they simply put out a regulation that almost literally just says "all smartphones need one common charger". Largely this has been microUSB but vendors are switching to microUSB.

The regulations are to my knowledge and experience also employed and enforced in a similar manner; first you get a nice letter informing you that your website is in violation of X. Ignore that or get aggressive towards the regulatory body and you get a less nicely worded letter with a threat of a fine. Continue that path and you get a fine.

The ultimate goal is that everyone should be compliant but it's okay to be occasionally not as long as you are willing to be helpful and fix it immediately.

>Do you really think they need the statutory authority to fine someone 20M EUR for their semi-commercial side project that made $1k lifetime total? If not, then why give it to them?

They don't you have a legal right for a proportional punishment. Unless your little side project caused damages the fine will be appropriate such that you can pay it without going bankrupt. And if it did you'll have to pay those damages on top of course.

>The GDPR applies to natural persons too. Imagine if it didn't! Facebook could just contract all the creepy stuff to a sole proprietorship operated by Mark Zuckerberg...

It only sorta does, it only does not apply to natural persons while they don't engage in commercial activity.

And a sole proprietorship is to my knowledge a legal person, even if the only natural person involved is 1. (I would know, I am basically one, or rather, small business operator would be the more accurate translation, which also has limits on turnaround and profit)

The sole proprietorship would have less rights than the person behind it and has no option but to fully implement the GDPR in any project or product. A natural person on the other hand, publishing a hobby on the internet with no commercial or business activity (which are different things in german law and you can certainly run a commercial activity without ever touching money or forming contracts).

Enforcement of regulations in the USA isn't grossly different in practice. For the kinds of topics that regulations tend to cover, I doubt it could be otherwise--the complexity of the topic makes it impossible to draft law that can be objectively applied to all cases, that ambiguity makes accidental noncompliance common, and regulatory discretion is required so the accidental noncompliers don't get screwed. I accept that as unavoidable, but not as good. The regulations have the force of law, and the penalties--the loss of one's livelihood, or even prison in the extreme--may be just as life-altering as for any other law. So all other things being equal, I'd prefer that the regulators act with as little discretion as possible. That gives everyone the fairest chance to comply with the rules, even if the regulators for whatever reason dislike them.

The GDPR indeed says the punishment should be proportional; but what does that mean to you? Are you sure it would mean the same thing to a regulator? A regulator who dislikes you? If they said that 10k email addresses and MD5-hashed passwords leaked from someone's game server was a worst-case breach, then I'd say that was ridiculous; but I don't see what in the text of the law lets me say that it's objectively false.

The USA has no concept of a separate entity for sole proprietors. It's just you, even if you're trading under a business name. If the GDPR didn't apply to that, then that would be a massive loophole, so I'm pretty sure it does. In any case, the real question is perhaps commercialness, where (a) lots of hobby projects have some small commercial element, ads or donations or a tee shirt or whatever (and to be clear, I do think privacy regulation should apply to them, just more specific regulation); and (b) I strongly suspect the GDPR applies to some noncommercial activity too--would the EU let a political group pull a Cambridge Analytica with all volunteer staff? I haven't researched that, though.

If I lived in Germany, then I'd probably have pretty good faith in my regulators. But imagine the example of that Soros-linked group in Hungary (which I'd edited my first comment to add, so you may have missed it). I don't think that's hypothetical--political organizations keep lots of data, so I suspect that somewhere, a group is making plans to comply with the GDPR, as interpreted by regulators whose government considers them "enemies of the state". What would you do in their place? Wouldn't you wish the text of the regulation gave the regulators less room to maneuver?

>if the GDPR didn't apply to that, then that would be a massive loophole, so I'm pretty sure it does.

Well, they are seperate entities so the loophole exists for how the US handles it but in the EU there is no loophole.

>In any case, the real question is perhaps commercialness

Last I checked you don't need commercial elements like ads, donations or anything like that to be considered commercial. Running your own git server with open registrations would be considered commercial (there is additional seperation in that you don't have to pay taxes unless you are profit-interested).

>I strongly suspect the GDPR applies to some noncommercial activity too-

Monitoring of any kind that is strictly outside private interest.

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