Austrian lawyer Max Schrems and the privacy enforcement nonprofit NOYB he founded in 2017 have instilled fear and loathing in Big Tech for quite some time—starting well before the current global backlash against the world’s tech giants. The privacy advocate and his group succeeded in getting one of Europe’s highest courts, the European Court of Justice, to strike down two successive EU-U.S. data transfer agreements, causing an international crisis. First, in 2015, they brought down the Safe Harbour agreement, a data-transfer mechanism used by thousands of companies. And then in July 2020, they convinced the court that its successor, the Privacy Shield, was also illegal.

They were just getting started.