Facebook to exclude 1.5 billion users from GDPR privacy protections

Non-European users will soon be held to US terms of service.

Europe's GDPR privacy regulations go into effect May 25th and Facebook showed how it plans to comply earlier this week. What has been on many people's minds though is whether the company will extend those consumer protections to users outside of Europe. Facebook has given a few answers to that question over the past few months, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg telling Reuters earlier in April that the company would extend it "in spirit" elsewhere but then telling Congressman Gene Green during his hearing last week, "We believe that everyone around the world deserves good privacy controls...The GDPR requires us to do a few more things and we are going to extend that to the world." But Reuters reports that whether or not Facebook decides to offer the same protections worldwide, it's at least making sure it can't be punished by the European Union if it doesn't.

Currently, around 1.5 billion Facebook users in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America are held to terms of service connected to the company's Ireland headquarters. But that subsidiary will fall under GDPR jurisdiction. So soon, Facebook will change it so that only European users fall under GDPR while everyone else will be subject to the more lenient US regulations. Facebook told Reuters that the move was largely due to the "specific language" required by the new EU law but noting, "We apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland."

The new European regulations stipulate that the company can be fined up to four percent of its global annual revenue for GDPR infractions, so it's not surprising that the company would make moves to ensure an additional 1.5 billion of its users didn't fall under EU jurisdiction. Reuters reports that LinkedIn is making similar changes, rerouting non-European users from terms agreements with its Ireland offices to agreements through its US-based offices instead.