SHARE calls Facebook and Google to appoint their representatives in Serbia

Three months prior to the application of the new Law on Personal Data Protection, SHARE Foundation asked 20 companies from around the world – including Google and Facebook, to appoint their representatives in Serbia. Competent bodies and citizens of Serbia will thus be able to turn to these representatives regarding all the questions in terms of personal data processing.

Although the business models of these companies area already greatly based on monetization of personal data of their users, and therefore of the citizens of Serbia, too, it seems that they practically still do not have any way to enjoy their rights when it comes to data collected by the most famous companies.

However, the new Law on Personal Data Protection, modelled afterGeneral Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stipulates the obligation of almost all big IT companies to appoint their representatives in Serbia. Namely, if a company offers products and services in Serbia or if it monitors the behavior of citizens, it must also appoint a representative, i.e. natural or legal entity to which citizens can address regarding their rights of persons to whom data refer. This entity will also cooperate with the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Serbia. Having in mind that Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and other IT giants process the data of Serbia’s citizens in order to provide services, they are obligated to appoint a local representative.

For example, Google recognized the local market as a significant one years ago, and so many services such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Chrome and Google Search have been adapted to our citizens and available in Serbian language, too. Additionally, Google targets the citizens of Serbia by using advertisements, and monitors their behavior through cookies, therefore, it is certainly obligated to appoint its representative in Serbia. Facebook is also available in Serbian and has about 3 million users in Serbia only on its main social networking site, and it also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook performs mass collection of users’ data so they could be profiled and shown targeted ads, as it is described in detail in SHARE Lab’s Facebook algorithmic factory research.

However, policies of these companies, most of which have their main headquarters in the USA, basically do not observe Serbia as a part of Europe, which results in a situation that the citizens of Serbia do not have their rights on personal data guaranteed at all. On the other hand, if Facebook or Google appoint their representatives in Serbia, it would be more likely for citizens to exercise their rights or initiate proceedings before competent Serbian authorities. Since the citizens of Serbia enter into agreements with the US companies regarding using the services, while the EU citizens do so with the European representatives, it is obvious that there are parallel systems of protection.

Letters have been sent to the following companies: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Snap Inc – Snapchat, AliExpress, Viber, Yandex, Booking, Airbnb, Ryanair, Wizzair, eSky, Yahoo, Netflix, Twitch, Kupujem prodajem, Toptal, GoDaddy, Upwork.

Letter sent to Google
Letter sent to Facebook