As UK breaks away from Europe, Facebook tells Brits: You'll all be Californians soon

Boris can’t manage a US trade deal, so antisocial media giant has done it for him


As Brits wake up to Brexit next month, most will no longer find themselves stuck on an island in the Atlantic but ensconced in sunny California, courtesy of Facebook.

The social media giant has decided that, legally speaking, it makes much more sense for UK residents to stop officially residing in Europe and will pile all British Facebook souls onto a boat and ship ‘em to the Golden State, as it has with others in the world.

Why? Privacy, of course. European citizens are covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which prevents Facebook from gathering and selling their personal information without explicit permission. But Facebook loves selling people’s personal data – so much in fact it has built the entire company’s business model around it. And so, you leave Europe, you end up in California.

Of course Cali has its own privacy laws these days that are much stronger than the rest of the US, however, until CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ready to leave his many houses in the state, Golden State laws will do. Besides, Facebook is among those tech giants pushing for federal privacy legislation that will undercut California’s so, you know, you may not have to worry for long about the tricky business of approving the sale of your most personal details to random advertisers.

“Like other companies, Facebook has had to make changes to respond to Brexit and will be transferring legal responsibilities and obligations for UK users from Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc,” the company told The Register in a statement: “There will be no change to the privacy controls or the services Facebook offers to people in the UK, and the protections of UK GDPR will also apply.”

Time to trade

You probably didn’t miss the “like other companies” part right up front. That’s because Google – that other privacy-loving mega-corporation – has already decided that it’s best for Brits to be legally flown over the Atlantic come January 1, 2021.

And the “UK GDPR” part? Well, let’s see just how G and P that is once Britain tries to get a bilateral trade agreement with America and has to start putting things on the table.

Northern Ireland nature scene. Photo by Shutterstock.com

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Even if you don’t get to physically escape the British winter for sunnier climes, there is another plus to this move: everything you say and do with either Google or Facebook will become subject to US spying laws. So if you were worried that the NSA or FBI didn’t know enough about you, worry no more, you’ll be best friends. Well, so long as you don’t do anything they don’t approve of.

While Europe continues to struggle to figure out how to reform the transatlantic data sharing agreement Privacy Shield that was struck down not once but twice by the European Court of Justice, the UK won’t have to worry: the US Cloud Act is already there.

If in the rare likelihood that you don’t like the idea of Facebook shifting your legal rights around the world according to the lowest possible privacy protections, however, don’t worry: Facebook is a big believer in choice. And so you will get to choose: use Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram and have your data pored over and sold, or elect not to follow social media giant’s decision by, um, never using those services again.

Say it once, say it all: thank you Santa Zuck! ®


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