Facebook CEO stops short of extending European privacy globally

Exclusive: Facebook CEO stops short of extending European privacy globally

Privacy advocacy groups have been urging Facebook and its Silicon Valley competitors such as Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google to apply European Union data laws worldwide, largely without success.

This means that 1.5 billion members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not fall under Ireland's reach, and with it the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For Facebook users outside the USA and Canada, whether they know it or not, is now subject to the rules of use that have been established by the global headquarters of the company in Ireland.

Though the current terms of service for Facebook's more than 2 billion users are governed under Irish law, Reuters reports that more than 70% of those users will soon be on a site that is instead under the authority of the data collection and privacy regulations in the US. In practice, the change means the 1.5 billion affected users will not be able to file complaints with Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner or in Irish courts.

In his answers to Congress over Facebook's involvement in the scandal, Mark Zuckerberg said that GDPR was "going to be a very positive step for the internet".

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Almost 1.9 billion users are outside of the United States and Canada, meaning they fall under the company's Ireland headquarters' terms of service, which will soon be protected by the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes enforceable from May 25. 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. As of December, Facebook had 239 million users in the United States and Canada, 370 million in Europe and 1.52 billion users elsewhere. Instead they will be governed by more lenient USA privacy laws. Jerry McNerney, a California Democrat who represents parts of Contra Costa County, asked Zuckerberg when U.S. Facebook users would get GDPR protections.

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

Users will also be asked whether they want to allow Facebook to use data from partners such as apps and websites to tailor the ads they see, and whether they want to share political, religious or relationship information from their profiles. Simply put, the new law prevents personal data from being used without express consent.

Facebook Ireland provides New Zealand's Facebook service. Violating the new rules will result in fines, and other USA tech companies are making changes to prepare to comply with GDPR.

Facebook isn't the only social media company doing this either as LinkedIn is also moving its non-EU members back to the US.

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