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Why Cookie Consent Banners and Russian Oligarchs Are a Bad Combination for Press Freedom

What do cookie-consent banners and Russian oligarchs have in common?Why Cookie Consent Banners and Russian Oligarchs Are a Bad Combination for Press Freedom

What do cookie-consent banners and Russian oligarchs have in common?

In 2020, Catherine Belton, a British journalist, published a book on Russia’s kleptocratic class called “Putin’s People”.

Two of the oligarchs mentioned in the book claimed that her information was inaccurate and thus breached their rights under GDPR, the newest European data-protection law.

They decided to sue her for GDPR breach instead of for libel.

Why? 🤔

By British defamation law, claimants need to prove the information shared caused "serious harm". But with GDPR, claimants have the right to access any information their opponent has about them, even if it hasn't caused any harm or hasn't been published. So it applies also to confidential reports, corporate internal memos and more.

💡 If you believe the information is inaccurate, you can sue. 💡

Trials are very expensive, especially in the UK, so Catherine Belton and her publisher HarperCollins, eventually decided to settle the case and agreed to make changes to the book.

Of course, if your opponent doesn't care about money, you're always going to lose.

Needless to say, the same oligarchs who could sue Belton in London, were sanctioned by the British Government in 2022.

Cookie banners are not just bad for online user experience, but also for press freedom.

To know more about this story:

The Economist: Why oligarchs love European data-protection laws

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