European citizens have long enjoyed stronger privacy protections than we do in the United States. Those protections have often caused problems for Facebook, which regularly finds itself embroiled in lawsuits regarding what it does with European users’ data. In part, that’s what led to the creation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law that goes into effect this May that will apply to any company that collects individuals’ data in the European Union. The law requires companies like Facebook to obtain “informed consent” from users before the site collects their information. And in an effort to win back public trust here in the States, Facebook wants to roll out the same rules for all of us.
That means that every Facebook user, no matter where they live, will be asked to review “important information” about their privacy on Facebook. With the imminent passing of GDPR, Facebook said it saw an opportunity to “even more heavily” invest in privacy.
“We not only want to comply with the law, but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook,” Facebook executives Erin Egan and Ashlie Beringer wrote in a blog post announcing the change. “We want to be clear that there is nothing different about the controls and protections we offer around the world.”
It’s undeniably a win for users that Facebook is strengthening its privacy rules around the world. But it shouldn’t have required a massive PR controversy for Facebook to reach this decision.