Google has confirmed that the accounts of British users will be moved out of the control of privacy regulators of the European Union.
Instead, the Google accounts will be placed under US jurisdiction instead, Reuters quoted the search engine giant as confirming late on Wednesday.
The move comes after the United Kingdom officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020, but it seems that the GDPR protections will still apply to these accounts.
According to Reuters, the move could leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection, but within easier reach of British law enforcement.
It reported that Google intends to require its British users to acknowledge new terms of service including the new jurisdiction, according to people familiar with the plans.
“Nothing about our services or our approach to privacy will change, including how we collect or process data, and how we respond to law enforcement demands for users’ information,” Google reportedly said in an emailed statement.
“The protections of the UK GDPR will still apply to these users,” Google stated.
Until now, British accounts were essentially under Irish jurisdiction as that is where Google has located its European headquarters.
Google has decided to move its British users out of Irish jurisdiction because it is unclear whether the UK will follow GDPR or adopt other rules that could affect the handling of user data, the people told Reuters.
Reuters also reported that if British Google users had their data kept in Ireland, it would be more difficult for British authorities to recover it in criminal investigations.
It cited the recent Cloud Act in the United States, which is expected to make it easier for British authorities to obtain data from US companies.
The UK and the United States are also currently negotiating a trade agreement.
Reuters reported that the United States has among the weakest privacy protections of any major economy, with no specific law despite years of pressure by consumer protection groups.
It now remains to be seen whether other tech firms, such as Facebook, will follow Google’s lead and begin to relocate the jurisdiction of British accounts.
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