Fb will transfer UK customers to US phrases, avoiding EU privateness legal guidelines | Know-how
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Facebook will convert all of its users in the UK into user agreements with its California headquarters, removing them from their current relationship with the Irish Facebook entity and beyond the reach of European data protection laws.
The change will take effect next year, following a similar move that Google announced in February. These and other companies have their European headquarters in Dublin, and the UK’s exit from the EU will change its legal relationship with Ireland, which remains in the Union.
Initially, sources briefed on the matter informed Reuters of the move. Facebook later confirmed it.
UK users of Facebook are still subject to UK Data Protection Act, which initially tracks the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Facebook is making the change in part because the EU data protection regime is one of the strictest in the world, according to people familiar with the company. EU rules give users granular control over the data on them.
In addition, the US Cloud Act, passed in 2018, has made it easier for the UK and the US to share data on cloud computing users.
Privacy advocates fear that the UK may move to an even more loose data protection regime, particularly because it has a trade deal with the United States that is far less protective. Some also fear that UK Facebook users could be more easily monitored by US intelligence agencies or data requests from law enforcement agencies.
“The bigger the company, the more personal data they hold, the more likely they are to be subject to surveillance obligations or requirements in order to hand data over to the US government,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the UK-based Open Rights Group. US courts have ruled that constitutional protections against improper searches do not apply to overseas non-citizens.
UK information industry regulators said they have contacted Facebook, along with companies that are keeping their European headquarters as Brexit approaches. “We are aware of Facebook’s plans and will continue to work with the company in the new year,” said a spokeswoman in the information commissioner’s office.
A Twitter spokesperson said its UK users will continue to be served from the company’s Dublin office.
Facebook will inform users about the shift in the next six months, a spokesman said, giving them the opportunity to stop using the world’s largest social network and its Instagram and WhatsApp services.
Facebook’s decision comes at a time when the UK is escalating efforts to ban strong encryption that Facebook is implementing on all of its products. The UK, like the European Union, is putting pressure on Facebook on a number of other fronts, including hate speech and terrorism policies.
The United States could also pursue new laws on privacy and social media content, and federal and state attorneys recently launched antitrust proceedings against Alphabet’s Facebook and Google. Still, tech lobbyists expect US tech regulations to remain more industry-friendly than the UK.