Google quits EU – As part of its preparations for Brexit, Google intends to quit its EU headquarters in Ireland and move its EU operations to the US. The move affects tens of millions of user accounts.
The EU’s privacy regulations – embodied in its General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] – are among the harshest in the world. Google has been labouring under them for many years, incurring large fines for non-compliance in the process. Therefore, it looks as if the company is taking advantage of Brexit to remove its EU administration from its tax haven, Ireland, to the US.
The US has far less stringent privacy regulations than the EU. Some critics are describing the US privacy regulations as an anything goes state of affairs. Indeed, that lax state of affairs is bound to cause concern for many of the owners of user accounts in the remaining EU countries and the UK.
Google quits EU – The company’s assurances to its UK users
Google assures its UK users that the company intends to maintain exactly the same data-protection standards in operation from the US as it did from Ireland and that its accounts’ privacy settings will not change.
Nevertheless, Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, feels strongly that “The possibilities for abuse are enormous, from US immigration programmes through to attempts to politically and racially profile people for alleged extremist links.”
A warning from Google to its shareholders says that the UK’s exit from the EU may do damage to its revenue while subjecting the company to further fines and create new technical challenges that stem from how personal data transfers between the UK and the US.
Facebook is in the same situation as Google with regard to the UK’s privacy regulations and exit from the EU and also currently operates out of its tax haven in Ireland. We await Facebook’s response.
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