Published: Fri, April 20, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

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

The GDPR, which takes effect on May 25, requires social networks to gain consent from users before they can use their personal data.

Facebook has introduced privacy safeguards for users around the world that ensure it complies with the GDPR, asking users explicitly to review important privacy information before features like facial recognition are enabled, for example.

Facebook officials were grilled and upbraided Thursday by a Canadian parliamentary committee studying the Cambridge Analytica data breach as well as broader privacy issues that have come to light in the fallout of that scandal.

Facebook is quietly changing its terms of service to shift 1.5 billion users away from Europe to the U.S. while continuing to claim it wants to offer greater privacy protections. "We want to be clear that there is nothing different about the controls and protections we offer around the world", Facebook wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

"We're still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing", he said earlier this month to Reuters.

"We were told nearly in passing that any new Canadian regulations might well put at risk Facebook investments in Canada along the lines of the $7 million invested in the artificial intelligence project in the Montreal hub", Kent said.

And then earlier this week, it was revealed that Facebook has made a decision to repeat its usual formula of introducing a whole host of controls that it turns on whenever possible and requires users to individually locate and turn off. 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 released a revised terms of service in draft form two weeks ago, and they are scheduled to take effect next month. Facebook members outside the United States and Canada, whether they know it or not, are now governed by terms of service agreed with the company's global headquarters in Ireland.

USA and Canadian users are governed by terms of service from the California HQ and everyone else is covered by the Irish terms of service. "The GDPR and European Union consumer law set out specific rules for terms and data policies which we have incorporated for European Union users". "We apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland", the company said.

Sherman stressed that the social media giant has changed all sorts of policies since 2014, and especially in the past few weeks, to prevent this kind of information from being shared, and to limit the ability of third parties to scrape user data. The strictest data infractions could require the company to cough up four percent of its annual income or €20 million, whichever is higher. It's nearly as if the company is anxious that if it was completely honest about what it does with its users information they would leave the service in droves.

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