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AP

U.S. companies are largely unprepared for what's about to hit them when sweeping new EU data laws take effect next year. The regulation — the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) — is intended to give users more control of how their personal data is used and streamline data processes across the EU. Companies that fail to comply with the complex law will face steep fines of up to 4% of their global annual revenue.

Why it matters: Europe has by far taken the most aggressive regulatory stance on protecting consumer privacy and will in many ways be a litmus test for regulating the currency of the data economy. It impacts a huge number of businesses from advertisers to e-commerce platforms whose data flows through EU countries. That means everyone from Google to your neighbor who sells shoes on eBay could be affected.

Compliance challenge: Firms in all sectors are dealing with more data than ever before, so managing it requires more resources. Experts tell Axios that complying with the law is a daunting and expensive task for many companies. Niche legal firms are cropping up to help companies deal with it.

"People aren't fully ready for managing this," said Hilary Wadell, general counsel and chief of data governance at TrustArc. "A lot of organizations are still trying to wrap their arms around appropriate data governance and to understand the types of data they have and how it is used." According a recent TrustArc survey, 61% of organizations haven't even begun implementation.

Tech watch: Companies in all sectors will have to comply, but tech companies in particular will have steep climbs. "Were going to see innovative things from Google and Facebook in terms of how they deal with it," says David Downing, EVP at ASG technologies. On its Q2 earnings call, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told investors that when they look at regulatory issues, including GDPR, they make sure those regulators understand how Facebook contributes to economic growth in their countries.

The EU perspective: Wojciech Wiewlorowski, Assistant Supervisor for the European Data Protection Supervisor in Brussels, stressed that the regulation won't slow down innovation or the flow of data. Rather, it's a necessary step to deal with the explosion of the data economy in a "civilized" way — similar to how society had to impose rules on automobile traffic.

"The road code [was] created in order to facilitate the way that we transport things and transport people," he said on a call discussing the GDPR implementation. "But, of course, in some ways it limits the way that we try to invent solutions. This is the kind of price we pay for a civilized way for the flow of personal data in the world."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

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