Facebook Moves Millions Of Users Data To US To Avoid European Privacy Laws

Zuckerberg’s promise to uphold ‘spirit’ of new EU data protection rules quietly put to the side just days after making it…

The social media giant, Facebook has begun moving user data from its servers in Ireland back to the USA in order to avoid having to comply with new European legislation and to take advantage of laws that favor corporate entities over the rights of individuals.

By changing its terms of service, and moving the data States side, some 1.5 billion members will not be protected under tough new privacy protections coming to Europe. According to the BBC, the move will “affect more than 70% of its more than two billion members. As of December, Facebook had 239 million users in the US and Canada and 370 million in Europe”.

Facebook is moving millions of users data to the USA so it doesn't have to comply with new data protection laws.

Facebook is moving millions of users data to the USA so it doesn’t have to comply with new data protection laws.

GDPR: European law change

The move is due to come into effect shortly before General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in Europe on 25 May. The new rules mean that Facebook would be liable under GDPR for fines of up to 4% of its global turnover, if it keeps its user data within the EU. “The GDPR and EU consumer law set out specific rules for terms and data policies which we have incorporated for EU users. We have been clear that we are offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live,” said Stephen Deadman, deputy chief global privacy officer at Facebook.

In the spirit

Earlier this month, when asked whether his company would promise GDPR protections to its users worldwide, Zuckerberg dodged answering the question, saying “we’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing.”

Facebook told Reuters, “we apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland”. It said the change was only carried out “because EU law requires specific language” in mandated privacy notices, which US law does not”.

Cake and eat it

Facebook will continue to lodge its revenue through Facebook’s Irish office, to take advantage of its low 10% Corporation tax rate, but for privacy protections, they will deal with the company’s headquarters in California.

Not that Facebook are the only company moving its data. Several other US multinationals have recently made the switch as well. LinkedIn, for example, will move its own non-EU users to the US branch on 8 May. “We’ve simply streamlined the contract location to ensure all members understand the LinkedIn entity responsible for their personal data,” it told Reuters.

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