Google plans to move accounts of its British users to a US jurisdiction, making it easier for sensitive information of tens of millions of people to be accessed by UK authorities, reports say.
Speaking to three people familiar with the technology giant’s plan, the Reuters news agency said the British accounts would be removed from their current holding under the control of EU privacy regulators since the UK is no longer a member of the bloc.
The European Union is known for having some of the world’s strictest data protection laws with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), whereas the US has some of the weakest for a major economy.
The US has also recently introduced the Cloud Act, which could eventually make it easier for UK authorities to access data of British users for criminal investigations.
Google, which has one of the world’s largest stores of personal information, has so far declined to comment, but it is understood the company intends to make users acknowledge the terms of the changes.
Lea Kissner, who formerly led global privacy technology at Google, said she would be surprised if the UK was kept under EU jurisdiction – which is in Ireland – after Brexit.
A US-UK trade deal that is yet to be negotiated could also come into play, she added.
She said: “There’s a bunch of noise about the UK government possibly trading away enough data protection to lose adequacy under GDPR, at which point having them in Google Ireland’s scope sounds super-messy.”
“Never discount the desire of tech companies not be caught in between two different governments.”
Facebook, which also has its EU headquarters in Ireland, did not respond to a request for comment.