Facebook is to shift British users away from the privacy protections under Europe’s GDPR, and instead transfer the data sharing agreements to the United States.
Specifically, from next year Facebook will move its UK users onto agreements with the company’s corporate headquarters in California, Reuters reported.
UK users of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram in the coming months will have to sign a terms of service agreement with Facebook USA, instead of its European HQ located in the Republic of Ireland.
Facebook has reportedly insisted the move will not change the privacy controls or the services it offers UK customers.
“Facebook has had to make changes to respond to Brexit and will be transferring legal responsibilities and obligations for UK users from Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc,” the social media giant told Reuters.
It should be noted that Facebook is not the only company undertaking this data sharing agreement transfer.
Google has already carried out this move back in February this year, and a number of other companies are likely to follow suit, as Microsoft and Twitter for example also have their European headquarters in Ireland.
There is concern however among privacy advocates that the UK might be tempted to water down its protections in the pursuit of free trade deals as it leaves the EU.
The UK and the United States are currently negotiating a trade agreement.
Already, the Cloud Act – a US law passed in 2018 – has made it easier for US and UK authorities to access data stored by digital service providers stored in each other’s territory.
There is also concern as the United States is considered to have among the weakest privacy protections of any major economy, with no specific law despite years of pressure by consumer protection groups.
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