Google LLC is moving its British users’ accounts away from European Union privacy regulators and into U.S. jurisdiction, according to reports published Wednesday.
Since the United Kingdom is longer part of the European Union, that means tens of millions of users are no longer protected by the stringent guidelines imposed by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. That could mean British law enforcement will have an easier time accessing information.
Three people familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters said Google will soon requite British users to accept a new terms of service, which will include being told their accounts have been moved to a new jurisdiction. The U.S. is regarded as having the weakest protections of internet users in any major economy.
The U.S. recently introduced the Cloud Act, which will likely make it easier for U.K. law enforcement to access data of British users in criminal investigations. According to the report, Google might also have chosen to have British accounts answer to a British subsidiary, but the company didn’t take that option.
Google might not be the only company that moves its data out of the hands of Europeans regulators. Other large tech companies such as Facebook Inc. keep their data in Ireland, and Ireland is staying in the E.U. That could mean an exodus from Ireland in the coming months. Facebook Inc. didn’t respond when asked to comment about the matter.
Google later confirmed that accounts would be moved, but the company said users should not expect any major changes. The reason for the change is only because Google is not sure if the U.K. will follow GDPR rules or create something entirely new, which could make the handling of data difficult for Google.
“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,” Google said in an emailed statement. “The protections of the U.K. GDPR will still apply to these users.” Reuters