Facebook to put 1.5b users out of European Union privacy law's reach

Facebook to put 1.5b users out of European Union privacy law's reach

That's around 1.5 billion users.

The EU's new data privacy law is just about to come into effect (May 25th). Outside of the USA and Canada, Facebook users fall under the terms and conditions associated with Facebook's operation in Ireland, which means this new European law could protect people in Australia, Africa and Asia. That means when the strict data rules under the E.U.'s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) role around next month, Facebook would have to protect almost 1.9 billion users, including those in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America.

Facebook, and other tech companies, set up a fake International Head Quarters in Ireland to avoid paying United States taxes. Facebook is trying to reduce the impact of this law for themselves.

In a letter to Zuckerberg on Wednesday, the EU assembly's president, Antonio Tajani, said that Europeans hit by the scandal "deserve a full and thorough explanation from Facebook's top manager".

In a statement given to Reuters, Facebook played down the importance of the terms of service change, saying it plans to make the privacy controls and settings that Europe will get under GDPR available to the rest of the world.


"We apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc. or Facebook Ireland", the company told Reuters.

Simply put, the Facebook move means that any user outside of European Union will not be able to file complaints with the Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner or in Irish courts which will be governed by the GDPR; instead, the complaint will be judged by the relatively lenient USA laws on privacy.

GDPR mandates how entities handle European Union citizens' data no matter where they reside. India is yet to adopt a data protection law.

That said, Facebook does have part of a legitimate argument in shifting non-Europeans away from its European terms of service since the GDPR will require some changes that won't make sense outside the continent: such as the concept of a Data Protection Officer, or new requirements on moving data outside Europe.

Facebook Canada head of public policy Kevin Chan denied that the company would do such a thing. The EU says the rules are the most important change in data privacy regulation in a generation as it tries to catch up with technological advances since 1995, when the last comprehensive rules were approved. New terms that take effect May 8 move non-Europeans to contracts with US -based LinkedIn Corp. "We've simply streamlined the contract location to ensure all members understand the LinkedIn entity responsible for their personal data", the company said.

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