Facebook is moving to circumvent the incoming General Data Protection Regulation set to go into effect in the European Union next month as much as it is legally allowed to, Reuters reports, citing an official confirmation from the social media giant. All 1.9 billion Facebook users outside of North America have previously agreed to terms of service with the firm's Irish subsidiary as part of the process of registering for a Facebook account, yet 1.5 billion of them will see their agreements transferred to another unit of the company outside of the EU's jurisdiction. As a result, only 400 million Europeans with a Facebook account will be able to benefit from the protections offered by GDPR which, among other things, requires digital companies to clearly communicate the scope of user data they harvest and the manner in which they use that information.
The move isn't unexpected even despite the fact that Facebook already vowed to go above and beyond what GDPR requires of it when it comes to protecting the online privacy of its users, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other company officials previously going on record to state that people outside of the EU will still benefit from improved protections in the spirit of GDPR but the tools made available to them will be purpose-built to comply with laws in their respective countries. The decision to move over 70-percent of its users outside of GDPR's reach also lowers the potential liability Facebook could be facing under the incoming law in case of any violations, with the European Commission already agreeing to fines amounting to up to four-percent of any violator's annual revenue. In Facebook's case, that could mean penalties of over $1.6 billion, based on the company's consolidated financial report for 2017 that saw it report a turnover of approximately $40.6 billion.