Big tech is notorious when it comes to the usage of customer data for advertising and tracking users across the web. The regulatory framework of the GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, in the EU aims to give users more control over their own data – and lays the groundwork for fining companies offering their services in the EU for breaching its articles. Even though the Ireland branch of WhatsApp is facing a fine of 267 million U.S. dollars for failing to live up to GDPR standards, it's not the biggest sum a company had to pay in the history of the GDPR.
As our chart shows, that questionable honor goes to Amazon, another member of GAFAM. In July of 2021, Luxembourg's data watch dog issued the European branch of the multi-billion dollar tech firm a fine of rougly 886 million U.S. dollars for the "non-compliance with general data processing principles" according to the GDPR Enforcement Tracker by CMS Law. The third place on the list of highest fines goes to Google, followed by Swedish fashion company H&M and Italian telco provider TIM.
The GDPR was instated on May 25th, 2018 as a replacement for the EU's Data Protection Directive from 1995, encompassing 99 articles. So far, the GDPR Enforcement Tracker lists 822 individual breaches of the GDPR regulations, although the data is most likely incomplete since not all fines are made public.