>> The European Union prides itself on being a pioneer of online privacy, but a patchwork of regulators will enforce a new data protection law that takes effect this month lacks the clout and the money to hold big tech to account. I'm Doug Busvine reporting for Reuters from Frankfurt.
On paper, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR as it's known, gives individuals greater clarity and more rights to control how companies handle information about them. It foresees hefty fines of up to 4% of the companies global revenues for serious breaches. Yet it falls to a mishmash of regulators across the 28 nation block to uphold those standards.
We set the watchdogs a four question survey, 18 national regulators replied as did six from the federal states that oversee data protection in Germany. More than three quarters said they are underfunded, leaving them ill equipped to bring tough enforcement actions against firms like Facebook or Google, and that matters.
>> And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry.>> Facebook's admission that personal information of 87 million users was passed to Cambridge Analytica has raised concerns that that data is used to swing elections. As Facebook's European headquarters are in Dublin, it falls onto the Irish regulator and its budget is less than 1,000th of the social network's annual profits.
The UK watchdog is meanwhile investigating Cambridge Analytica, a British company. In our poll, only three other regulators said they were actively probing Facebook. The rest are waiting for the UK to report back. More broadly, only a minority of those responded said they proactively pursue data violations. The city group analysts say it's unlikely that any company will be slapped with the maximum GDPR fines in its first year of operation.