Facebook will shift UK users to California terms after Brexit

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The UK will enjoy fewer privacy protections when it has fully left the EU.


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Facebook confirmed on Wednesday that users in the UK will shift over to the same user agreements the social network uses in California when the country parts way with the EU next year.

Facebook’s current relationship with the UK, as with other EU countries, is managed through Ireland, where the company has its European headquarters. But as the country’s legal relationship with the EU changes due to Brexit, so will its relationship with Facebook.

The changes will come into effect in the first half of next year and mirror similar changes Google announced back in February.

“Like other companies, 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,” said a spokesman for the company in a statement. “There will be no change to the privacy controls or the services Facebook offers to people in the UK, and the protections of UK GDPR will also apply.”

The GDPR, the EU’s strict privacy regulation, will still apply in the UK even after the country fully leaves the EU — at least initially. But some privacy experts are concerned that no longer being under the jurisdiction of the EU might be bad news for the privacy of users in the UK in the long run.

“Moving data out of the EU makes it harder to enforce your privacy rights,” said Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group in a statement. “It means European actions to limit the power of the tech giants will not apply to UK citizens. It means the UK ICO [the country’s privacy watchdog] will need to be pushed to make the same decisions when companies break the law. And it means those tech giants can lobby for weaker UK rules to ensure they can get away with things in the UK that they cannot in the EU.”

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