London, Dec 16 (AFP/APP): Facebook said Wednesday it will switch legal responsibility for British users from its EU base in Ireland to its US headquarters next year in a change sparked by Brexit.
“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,” a group spokesperson said.
The California-based company added that it will implement the switch from January after the Brexit transition period ends. That means that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy charter will no longer apply to the data. However, British GDPR protections will remain in place, overseen by Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) data watchdog.
“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 spokesperson added.
Facebook Inc. already retains legal responsibility for users’ data from all other nations outside the European region. Internet search giant Google announced a similar move in February. The UK-based digital privacy campaign group Open Rights Group slammed Facebook for the move.
“Moving data out of the EU makes it harder to enforce your privacy rights,” said Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock 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 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.”
The government last month announced it would set up a watchdog to regulate tech giants, including Facebook, to help protect smaller competitors and give consumers more control over personal data. Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said a new statutory code will aim to make tech giants “more transparent about the services they provide and how they are using consumers’ data”.
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