Facebook will change all of its users from the United Kingdom into user agreements with the corporate headquarters in California, transferring them from their present relationship with Facebook’s Irish unit and out of reach of Europe’s privacy legislation.
The change takes effect next year and follows a similar movement announced in February from Google.
Those companies and other people have European head offices in Dublin, and the UK’s exit from the EU will change its legal connection with Ireland, which remains from the Union.
Originally, sources briefed about the matter told journalists at ou partner news agency Reuters about the movement. Facebook later affirmed it.
Facebook’s UK users will remain subject to UK privacy legislation, which tracks the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Facebook is making the change partly because the EU privacy plan is one of the world’s strictest, according to people knowledgeable about the corporation. The EU rules give granular control to customers over information about them.
In addition, the US Cloud Act, passed 2018, set a way for the UK and US to more easily exchange data about cloud computing users.
Privacy advocates fear that the UK may move to an even more comprehensive data privacy regime, particularly as it ignites a trade deal with the United States, which offers far fewer protections. Some also worry that UK Facebook users could more readily be subject to surveillance from US intelligence agencies or info requests from law enforcement.
“The bigger the company, the more personal data they hold, the more they are likely to be subject to surveillance duties or requirements to hand over data to the U.S. government,” said Jim Killock, executive manager of the UK-based non-profit Open Rights Group. US courts have held that constitutional protections against unreasonable searches do not apply to non-citizens overseas.
UK data industry regulators said they’d been connected with Facebook and businesses keeping European headquarters as Brexit nears.
“We are aware of Facebook’s plans and will continue to engage with the company in the new year,” said a spokeswoman at the Information Commissioner’s Office.
A Twitter spokesman said its UK users will continue to be handled by the company’s Dublin office.
Facebook’s decision comes at a time when the UK is escalating attempts to ban strong encryption, which Facebook is going to implement on all its products. The UK, like the European Union, is also pressuring Facebook on a number of other fronts, such as hate speech and terrorism policies.
The United States may also pursue new legislation on privacy and societal media articles, and federal and state prosecutors recently established antitrust lawsuits against the Facebook and Google. Still, tech lobbyists anticipate that US technology regulations will remain more industry-friendly than people in the UK.
The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco. Editing by Jonathan Weber and Matthew Lewis.
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