2023 in Privacy
Main Themes, Biggest Fines, and Month-By-Month Analysis

2023 in Privacy

Privacy professionals across the world had a very busy 2023. Now the dust has (almost) settled, let’s take a step back and review the year in privacy.

This article looks in detail at 2023’s most hotly-debated privacy themes, the highest fines, the major developments each month, and what to expect throughout the rest of 2024.

The Author’s Privacy Prologue

And lo, the GDPR said, “It shall be as easy to withdraw as to give consent”. And the user gaveth consent in but one click. Yet to withdraweth consent, he hadst to go downstairs and findeth his credit card.

How far should the GDPR be taken as gospel? A straightforward reading of Article 7 (3) suggests that “consent or pay” policies are illegal. This would mean Meta cannot charge Facebook and Instagram users who refuse consent for tracking.

Meta runs on personal data. If it could not monetise its users’ posts, likes, and follows, the company would likely go out of business.

Few privacy pros would miss Facebook. But what about its users, many of whom—even with a full understanding of the realities of online tracking—would gladly “pay with their data”?

And what about the news publishers that have erected “cookie paywalls” to fund their dwindling ad revenues? GDPR-compliant consent requests might make as revenues fall dramatically. Without the option to charge cookie-refusers, would the media survive?

But a two-tier system of human rights seems equally unpalatable.

There are no easy answers. This debate shows how the GDPR impacts practically every industry and individual.

Many other data protection issues—on data transfers, government surveillance, or AI—have even more significant implications.

In 2023, these debates played out in courts, regulatory chambers, and board rooms.

If you understand the nuances and conflicting interests at play, it's a fascinating time.

Table of Contents

Robert Bateman
Author: Robert Bateman

Robert is an expert in privacy, data protection, and tech policy, known for his in-depth research, approachable writing, and interviews with industry leaders.

His work spans GDPR, AI regulation, digital rights, and security, making him a trusted guide in navigating the complexities of data and technology regulations worldwide.