The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was launched in the European Union (EU) in 2018. The aim of this law is to give EU citizens more control over their data and their privacy. Companies that break the law have since received hefty fines, which continue to increase every year. According to an analysis by the VPN service Atlas VPN, the fines associated with the GDPR exceeded one billion euros in 2021. Compared to the previous year, this is an increase of a whopping 521%.
GDPR fines are getting higher and higher
“The GDPR continues to successfully hold companies accountable when they misuse people’s data or fail to clearly articulate their privacy policies. The companies have become more responsible in dealing with their customers: internal data in order to avoid hard fines from the regulators,”says Atlas VPN. The EU authorities imposed a total of 412 fines last year. The highest penalties went to US corporations such as Amazon and WhatsApp.
In 2018 there were only GDPR fines of €436,000. In the next year, 2019, the sum of the fines increased significantly to €72 million. As early as 2020, the total value of the fines imposed was over €171 million. With one billion euros in fines in 2021, it shows that it is becoming increasingly expensive for companies to violate the GDPR.
Highest penalties for Amazon and WhatsApp
There were hefty fines against companies, especially in the second half of 2021. In the first two quarters, authorities only imposed fines of around 50 million euros. Most of the penalties were imposed in the third quarter. In July, for example, Amazon Europe Core S.à.rl imposed the highest fine of €746 million. Later, in September, the EU imposed on WhatsApp Ireland Ltd. a fine of €225 million, the second-highest penalty in the history of the GDPR. In the fourth quarter of 2021, however, the fines were only €16.7 million
Most of the penalties were imposed in Spain last year. A total of 351 fines amounting to €36.7 million were humbled by the local authorities on companies. The average fine was around €105,000. Telecommunications companies such as Vodafone Spain in particular have prosecuted the Spanish authorities several times. Italy is in second place with 101 fines amounting to €90 million. Here the average fine is particularly severe at €887,000. Romania ranks third as it has imposed a total of 68 sanctions that add up to €721,000. Although many fines have been imposed here, the average is only under €11,000.