Friday, 20 April 2018 09:44

Facebook will afford EU privacy cover only to 30% of users Featured

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Facebook does not appear to have changed its attitude to user privacy in any way despite all its recent troubles, with the company having decided to avoid providing the protections afforded by the EU General Data Protection Regulation to nearly 70% of its registered users worldwide.

The news agency Reuters reported that only about 30% of users would be covered by the terms of the GDPR, which takes effect on 25 May, and the remaining members would not be afforded the same protections.

As of December 2017, Facebook had 239 million users in the US and Canada, 370 million in Europe and 1.52 billion in other countries where its service is available.

Facebook plans to get around affording GDPR protection to all its users by changing the terms of service which apply to users; until now, all those outside the US and Canada have been covered by terms agreed with its Ireland international headquarters.

But in May, Facebook will change that, so that only users in EU states are covered by the terms of service agreed in Ireland; users in Africa, Asia, Australia and South America will be governed by the same terms as those in North America, where privacy laws are much less stringent.

This means the vast majority of users will fall outside the GDPR regulations which allow European regulators to fine companies up to 4% of their global revenue for any violation of the statute.

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Last month, Facebook had to battle claims that data breaches led to information about 50 million of its users being siphoned off by Cambridge Analytica.

Later it emerged that practically all two billion-plus users could have had their data scraped due to "features" on the social media website.

In a blog post, chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer wrote: "Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way."

Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had to appear before the US Congress where he adopted a suitably crestfallen attitude.

In a statement provided to Reuters, Facebook attempted to play down the changes to terms of service, saying: "We apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland."

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn is doing something similar to Facebook by moving non-European users to a contract with its US-based LinkedIn Corporation. At present, users outside the US agree to a contract with its Ireland subsidiary when they sign up.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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