After an intense amount of discussion, arguments and speculation, the United Kingdom finally withdrew from the European Union on the 31st of January, 2020. While this raised many concerns for the UK’s future in terms of financial and sociopolitical turmoil, this article will pertain to the themes of technology that its readers are familiar with. Particularly, the privacy protection laws that UK no longer has from Facebook. The company has recently confirmed the report, stating that it will be taking responsibilities over from Facebook Ireland (Ireland has opted to stay a part of the Union). But how much does such a change affect users in the United Kingdom?
Facebook has made it clear that the UK’s citizens will now be held to the privacy laws of its own country, which are based on those of the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). However, this does not mean that there will be no changes enacted in terms of online security. The UK is, very notably, left particularly vulnerable to a federal law passed by the United States of America in 2018 termed the US CLOUD Act. The CLOUD Act, simply put, allows the USA to get access to cloud-stored information from US based companies on both local and foreign ground. And upon a last glance from this author, Facebook was a US based company.
Such a change of privacy regulations, no matter how controversial with the general public, certainly pose no issues for Facebook. The social media conglomerate and the European Union have butted heads before over prior data security issues. Recently, Instagram’s Insights feature stopped showing a certain portion of data from users in the EU, since their privacy laws would not allow for the information’s projection. With the UK’s removal from the Union, it seems that Facebook will now have a freer reign to handle user information as needed.
These changes, however, are not to be implemented for a while yet. Facebook has claimed that all of its users in the UK will have to re-accept new terms and conditions across all owned social media platforms (Instagram and WhatsApp) over approximately the next 6 months. Alternatively, Google made a similar decision earlier this year when it handed over the UK’s user data from Ireland to Google LLC, based in the USA. While privacy advocates in the UK are certainly concerned over what Brexit might mean for online security, the ball’s too high up to predict how it’ll drop.
Photo: Elijah Nouvelage / REUTERS
This post was written by Arooj Ahmed and was first posted to Digital Information World
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