Legal and political developments further separate Europe and the USA. GDPR enforcement by LIABs is gaining traction, but hits a snag when it comes to national security. Carebots are on the rise in Asia.


In a Belgian case, the ECJ holds person-focused search engine ZoekMPWie liable for revealing personal data found on the internet and required it to filter its search results, citing the 2012 Google/Costeja ruling as its precedent. Google updates its Terms of Service to require all users to consent to inclusion of personal data in search results, if that data is in the public domain. The Dutch supervisory authority declares this illegal and issues a 10 million Euro fine, which Google appeals and then quietly settles after making only cosmetic adjustments to the Terms.

Trump and Putin enter into a trade war on energy reserves, resulting in worldwide shortages of oil and gasoline. This hits the USA particularly hard and efforts are renewed to impeach Trump. Electric car manufacturers see a boom in sales, also in Europe. Europe remains a large purchaser of Russian oil, prompting Trump to declare Europe “un-American” and slapping even more tariffs on European imports. Europe strengthens its ties with China.

An extension to the US CLOUD Act is adopted in the USA as part of an emergency federal spending bill to finance the trade war, requiring US cloud companies to ensure they always have the ability to access data at the FBI’s request, even when stored in foreign datacenters operated by local subsidiaries. As the bill is declared secret in the interest of national security, in Europe it receives little attention until 2026.

Retail concern Ahold Delhaize Carrefour NV, the largest European retail chain and with a lot of personal data in its loyalty cards, releases a personalized shopping assistant in a “Me”-like wristwatch. It ignores the LIAB advice, prompting the Board to sue with the District Court in The Hague. The Board wins and gets an injunction: the retailer should have discussed with the LIAB before putting out its new system. This goes in appeal but Ahold switches to a LIAB-approved watch for the time being.

The German ZZP repeats its mass claim approach against ZoekMPWie and manages to collect a substantive amount. In several European countries, lawyers set up mass claims following this model.

The Rotterdam Transport Agency deploys surveillance cameras to catch the AI pranksters disrupting its timetables. Pranksters are identified using face recognition against their public transport payment card and issued a fine which is direct debited from the card. The LIAB sues, arguing the measure is disproportionate and moreover that they have not been heard. The Rotterdam court refuses, with the argument that maintaining security is a legitimate interest that by necessity is a company’s own choice. LIABs do not have a right to be involved.

In Japan, AI-driven carebots now exceed human caretakers for senior citizens. A grassroots movement appears to demand citizenship for these carebots. The anime series League Saints Carnival features a team of carebots as their protagonists, with their scripts entirely AI-generated. It is a huge hit in Asia and has an enthusiastic following in Europe. AI-driven technology becomes a staple of society in most of Asia, with Singapore in particular pumping out new innovations.

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