On May 25, Europe will be getting the biggest, most comprehensive regulation to help users gain control over their data. While Facebook itself has had to deal with its own data policies as a result of multiple privacy scandals, they aren’t planning on extending these European data protection regulations for users worldwide.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will force companies to obtain clear, unquestionable consent from users before gathering any type of personal data from them. If a company fails to keep that data safe, it will be subjected to a fine of up to 4% of its global annual revenue. In the case of Facebook, that means a scandal like the one that involved Cambridge Analytica would not end in a few hearings, but in losses amounting to billions of dollars.
All companies that collect user data from European citizens, no matter where their headquarters are located, will have to comply to these regulations or fines. This obviously means Facebook has to do that as well, but only for their European users, not their entire user base.
Confirmed by Reuters, Facebook is planning to remove GDPR protections from a large swath of their user base. At this moment, all Facebook members outside the US and Canada have accepted the terms of service from Facebook’s headquarters in Ireland, which is a country where GDPR will be enforced.
To avoid extending that regulation over users from Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America, users that are currently supported by Facebook’s Ireland headquarters, Facebook will simply and quietly change their terms of service. This will affect 1.52 billion users who will lose GDPR’s protection. Meanwhile, there are only 370 million European Facebook users.
This move not only reduces Facebook’s liability, but it also removes the GDPR’s “right to be forgotten” from all non-European users. While European users can ask Facebook to delete any data that belongs to you – essentially what the #deletefacebook movement hoped to achieve – other users won’t have that option.