Google is making some big changes to where it stores the data of its UK users, with the firm notifying users through an update to its terms and conditions. While UK data has been stored with the data of other EU countries, post-Brexit, Google now has plans to shift that data over to the US.
Some are worried that Google shifting UK data over to the US could mean a decrease in privacy protection, although Google denies this. It asserts that UK users will have their data processed in exactly the same way as they’re used to, with the same privacy controls and transparency that Google has afforded thus far.
If that’s the case, then you may be left wondering why Google feels the need to move the data at all. Well, it turns out Google may be worried that the UK will fail to reach a data equivalency deal with the European Union at the end of the Brexit transition period. If that’s the case, then it’s not just Google that will be forced to make the move.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already indicated that the UK will diverge from the rest of the EU when it comes to data protection regulation, and that may be just one of the reasons Google is gearing up for the change. By dealing with the issue now, it’s able to be ahead of any major changes that the UK government makes in the future.
Google is asking users to accept the new terms before March 31, so no data has been moved as of yet, but after that date UK users will have their data stored over in the US. The US arguably has lower data protection laws than the UK, although Google does note that it will follow any UK data protection laws that are implemented, including GDPR which is currently part of British law.
“Like many companies, we have to prepare for Brexit,” Google said in a statement.
“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. The protections of the U.K. GDPR will still apply to these users.”
One worry Google UK customers may have is the effect of the Cloud Act, which will make it easier for law enforcement to obtain data stored in the cloud by companies based in other legal jurisdictions. The act affects both the UK and the US, meaning UK law enforcement will easily be able to nab private data from Google’s servers about UK users, than it may have had the data remained in the EU.