International

UK Google Users Will Be Under US, Not EU Privacy Protections

Google users in the U.K. will no longer have access to European Union data security, instead being moved by the tech giant to American jurisdiction, according to officials, according to Reuters on Wednesday (Feb. 19).

The shift is due to Britain’s exit from the EU, also known as Brexit. Because of the change, data and privacy will leave the data of tens of millions of people under less protection, and it will be subject to more scrutiny by British law enforcement.

Google will require its users in the U.K. to sign new terms of service agreements, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Ireland, which hosts the headquarters of Google and other big U.S. companies, is staying in the EU and will keep some of the EU’s famously stringent data protection rules, the General Data Protection Regulation.

Because Google is unsure whether Britain will comply with GDPR rules, Google decided to move its U.K. customers out of the EU’s jurisdiction altogether, people familiar with the matter said. If British users’ data was held in Ireland, British authorities would have a harder time accessing the data.

Recent U.S. developments such as the Cloud Act, however, will make it easier for British law enforcement to obtain data from Google and others. Britain and the U.S. may also end up negotiating a broader trade agreement.

The U.S. has one of the weakest privacy protections of any developed nation. There are no broad laws despite years of advocacy and protests by consumer interest groups.

One employee familiar with the matter said that for now anyway, Britain’s privacy rules will still apply to requests for data from Google. Google opted not to have British accounts answer to a British subsidiary of its company umbrella.

Lea Kissner, Google’s former lead for global privacy technology, said per published reports, that she would’ve been surprised if the company had kept British accounts controlled under EU laws as the country left the union.

Brexit has had many effects on the economy and business of the region, such as Britain’s announcement that it will put import controls on goods coming into the country, and digital bank N26 blaming its departure from the country on Brexit.

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