Facebook Shrinks Legal Responsibilities Under New EU Data Laws by Shifting User Info to U.S.

The Philippines is looking for answers from Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg over the scope and impact of the leak of user data
AFP

Facebook has made moves to shrink their legal responsibilities under new EU data laws by storing as much international user data as possible in the United State instead of Ireland

Facebook is reportedly making a change to their Terms and Conditions that will be pushed out next month which will see the user data of all non-EU international users processed by Facebook USA rather than Facebook Ireland, meaning that approximately 1.5 billion Facebook users located in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not be subject to the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) data laws which take effect on May 25, according to Reuters.

The new GDPR will allow European regulators to fine companies that collect or use personal data of their users without their permission. The GDPR allows for fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue for infractions by companies, making Facebook’s decision to push 1.5 billion users outside of the reach of the GDPR a financially sensible one for the company. The GDPR will give European users the right to know what data is collected on them and the right to have company’s delete that data. Some American tech firms, such as Apple, have stated that they will give American users the same privacy rights afforded to European users under the GDPR. As of December of last year, Facebook had 239 million users based in the United States and Canada, 370 million users in Europe and 1.52 billion users in other countries.

Facebook has previously stated that they will not be rolling out GDPR laws to their worldwide platforms, it now seems that they’re attempting to limit the power that the new laws have entirely. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that although he agrees “in spirit” with the GDPR rules, the company has no plans to impose these EU rules worldwide — particularly not in the United States. Zuckerberg told Reuters that the company is working on a version of the EU law, which is set to take effect next month, that may bring elements of the law to a worldwide audience, but did not outline which elements of the law would be expanded. “We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” said Zuckerberg.

Facebook will be rolling out new privacy choices to users under the GDPR, however. “Everyone — no matter where they live — will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook,” said chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer in a statement. “We’ll begin by rolling these choices out in Europe this week.”

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that Facebook already provides many of the protections that the GDPR does on their own platform, allowing users to control the information that they share with Facebook and even allows users to delete that data. “We think that this is a good opportunity to take that moment across the rest of the world,” said Zuckerberg. “The vast majority of what is required here are things that we’ve already had for years across the world for everyone.”

Irish officials were allegedly not made aware of Facebook’s decision to decrease their presence in the country, Reuters reports:

Ireland was unaware of the change. One Irish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he did not know of any plans by Facebook to transfer responsibilities wholesale to the United States or to decrease Facebook’s presence in Ireland, where the social network is seeking to recruit more than 100 new staff.

Facebook reportedly released a new terms of service draft two weeks ago and expect to have them take effect sometime next month, most likely before Mat 25th when the GDPR comes into effect.

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