Of course, on HN I have to acknowledge that half of the users on this website get their paychecks from invading the privacy of the general public. If you fall into this category: what you're doing has always been wrong and now the law is catching up to that.
It's also quite ironic that the EU now cares about privacy considering that a decade ago they passed the Data Retention Directive. I guess privacy didn't matter then, huh?
This is a very astute observation, and is causing some angst among parts of the European population.
However, this seemingly conflicting behavior has a cultural rationale behind it.
In general, Europeans see government as trying to look out for their best interest, while they view corporate power with large skepticism. "Americans" hold the complete opposite view.
So when the governments in the EU tout sheepish clichés like "think about the children, catch terrorists, pedophiles" etc, by being able to retain data for those purposes, the public falls flat and lets Orwellian laws pass without much fuss. Because ... "the government is our ally, and we trust it, the claims, and that the data will be managed responsibly".
However, when corporations do the same, there's more fuss.
The one european people that is of sane mind here is those of germany, due to their history. Unfortunately germans are also deceived by their government through back-room deals on EU level, and with the national security excuse, when it can be kept out of the public eye; effect same as the other EU nations. The good thing however is that the german people are not as gullible as other parts of europe when it comes to surveilance and tracking, and they do tend to kick up a big fuss when this sh*t goes down. So they act as a sort of moral calibration for the other nations, such as mine.
Understanding this fundamentally different mindsets between US and European citizen will hopefully help explain quite a lot, for those who didn't already know this. This is why "american" views are insane to some europeans, and why EU is naive/retarded in the eyes of the US. (very generalized)