Following widespread controversy over user privacy, Facebook has announced that it will apply forthcoming, stringent EU privacy regulations to its 2 billion users in all parts of the world, according to Politico. This means even users in the US, with its particularly lax privacy laws, will enjoy the benefits of some of the most restrictive privacy regulations in place anywhere.
The move comes in response to outrage over last month’s Cambridge Analytica revelations, in which it was revealed that data from at least 50 million Facebook users was obtained, without consent in most cases, by a data analysis group that worked for the Trump campaign. Already, the fallout has led Facebook to change its ad policies and to limit the ability of third-part developers to collect user data. A wave of account deletions following the disclosure, and additional revelations have ensured a continued outpouring of anger toward the social media company.
Already, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations were passed in 2016 and were set to go into effect this May. The GPDR will require companies to gain an unprecedented degree of explicit user consent before obtaining and utilizing their data, to let users revoke that consent later, and that collected data can be accessed by users in order to verify consent. In the EU, companies that violate these rules will be subject to massive fines. The laws will have repercussions on how US companies handle data from EU citizens.
Now, Zuckerberg has demonstrated a willingness to take drastic measures to retain what’s left of the public’s trust in his company. He told reporters:
“We intend to make the same settings available everywhere, not only in Europe,” Zuckerberg told reporters. We need to figure out what makes sense in different markets with the different laws and different places. But let me repeat this, we’ll make all controls and settings the same everywhere, not just in Europe.”
The company had already said that some features developed to comply with the new EU rules would be included for users everywhere, but many other moves to gain user consent were expected to only apply to users in the EU. Zuckerberg did admit there may be some exceptions to the protections, but did not go into detail.
“We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” he said.
More recent information suggests the number of Facebook users affected by the Cambridge Analytica data collection could be as high as 87 million.