Facebook Wants To Exclude 1.5 Billion Users From Privacy Rules It Seems To Consider Overbearing

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Facebook is planning on adapting to imminently enforced rules from the European Union by trying to exclude around 1.5 billion users from other places around the world.

All users of the social media platform outside of the U.S. and Canada are subjected to the same rules, specifically those enacted and enforced by the company’s headquarters in Ireland, according to Reuters, which was the first to report on Facebook’s apparent intentions.

Facebook wants to carve out the implementation of the E.U.’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — a relatively stringent privacy law set to take effect May 25, 2018 that will govern internet and technology — to those in Europe. In other words, it wants to exempt itself from imposing the GDPR on the roughly 1.5 billion Facebook members in Australia, Asia, Africa and Latin America, since they are not confined by the same rules as the involved European countries.

Some, of course, will view such a move as a way to elude liability for the way it handles user data, a huge point of contention that arose after a series of recent events and revelations. It could also be perceived as a way to ensure people outside the jurisdiction of the European governing body aren’t affected by rules they didn’t create or vote on. Terms of services for the U.S. and Canada, however, which are more lax, will likely be the rules for the rest of the world.

Still, Facebook has expressed the desire to enact similar rules for the rest of the world down the road.

“The GDPR and E.U. consumer law set out specific rules for terms and data policies which we have incorporated for EU users,” Stephen Deadman, Facebook’s deputy chief global privacy officer, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We have been clear that we are offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live. These updates do not change that.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also tried to tread the delicate line of expressing his opinion on GDPR in a call with reporters earlier in April. He called those regulations “very positive,” but also was sure to add that different places require different rules.

Facebook plans on providing more features and options for people to control their personal data.

Politico reported Wednesday on an outreach letter Facebook sent to a number of conservative and libertarian nonprofits and think tanks. The letter invited the groups to discuss privacy rules. Facebook confirmed to TheDCNF a portion of the message.

The letter reads:

Before today’s hearing gets underway, I wanted to reach out to invite you to a discussion on privacy regulations and legislation on Wednesday, April 25 at 3:00-4:30 here at our offices. I know it’s not lost on anyone in the free market community that with GDPR on the way in Europe and the rapidly changing discussions here in Washington, there’s an increased chance Washington will rush to regulate, with privacy concerns at the top of the radar.

You’ll hear a lot this afternoon about our company’s privacy practices, the privacy updates we’ve made over our history and the ones we’re planning, and our desire to be part of the conversation as privacy experts, lawmakers, and advocates work through complicated questions about best practices in our fast-moving industry. It would be incredibly helpful for our privacy team to hear from you — we’d love to talk through any ideas/advice you have and run our thinking by you as well.

There is nothing particularly new or novel about a company reaching out to policy analysts, yet the act of sending a letter to organizations with an ideological bent seems to show Facebook is worried about overbearing regulations, like the GDPR.

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