In the aftermath of Brexit, Google plans to shift UK accounts outside the control of European Union privacy regulations, and under US jurisdiction instead.
The move is expected to make information more accessible to UK law enforcement, and leave data with less robust protection than is afforded by EU standards.
The decision is partially motivated by the lack of clarity around whether the UK will continue to abide by GDPR, or forge its own data handling regulations.
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Google will require UK users to accept new terms of service, including the move to a new jurisdiction.
Data privacy laws
In comparison to other major economies, US data privacy rules are among the most feeble, lacking a comprehensive regulation such as GDPR.
The recent US Cloud Act could also allow UK authorities to obtain data from US companies, a precursor to the anticipated trade deal between the Johnson and Trump administrations.
Lea Kissner, the company’s former Global lead of Privacy Technology, said it’s unsurprising Google was not willing to leave UK accounts in control of an EU country (currently Ireland) after Brexit.
“There’s a bunch of noise about the UK government possibly trading away enough data protection to lose adequacy under GDPR, at which point having them in Google Ireland’s scope sounds super messy,” she said.
“Never discount the desire of tech companies not to be caught in between two different governments,” Kissner added.
In a statement delivered to TechRadar Pro, Google claimed UK users will enjoy the same level of protection as they did under EU standards.
"Like many companies, we have to prepare for Brexit. Nothing about our services or our approach to privacy will change, including how we collect or process data, and how we respond to law enforcement demands for users' information. The protections of the UK GDPR will still apply to these users," the company said.
It remains to be seen whether Google’s decision will prompt other data giants, such as Facebook, to follow a similar course.
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