Changes to Google’s Terms of Service after Brexit

Data Protection, News,

If you have any type of Google account, you’ve probably received an email in the last week or so, asking you to accept Google’s Terms of Service, which have been updated after Brexit. The new Terms of Service are effective on the 31st March 2020.

One of the biggest changes within Google’s Terms of Service is the location of any UK users’ data. Previously Google Ireland was Data Controller and Service Provider for anyone in the EEA (Europe).

Since we left the EU, Google has decided our data no longer needs to be dealt with in the same way as the rest of the EU.

When I read this, I was worried.

We hold sensitive data for our clients, and spent a lot of time before GDPR came in, making sure that data was only with suppliers who would ensure that it was secure. This was a requirement of GDPR, and remains a requirement whilst we are in the transition period between leaving the EU and knowing what regulations we’ll be working with after 31st December 2020.

Does this mean that we need to stop using Google? What about the associated platforms, such as YouTube, Google Drive and Google My Business?

So where are we left?

We’ve sought guidance from those that translated GDPR for us when it was all so new and baffling. Their expert opinion is that Google is preparing for the end of the transition period. At this point, UK GDPR will come into force, which is very similar to the EU GDPR that we’re all familiar with.

There is a chance that as legislation develops and is tested in the courts however, UK GDPR may develop in a different direction to the EU GDPR. With that in mind, it would be difficult for Google to differentiate between UK data subjects and EU data subjects if all were held by Google Ireland.

Data transfers between the UK and US in the meantime will become subject to the Privacy Shield legislation rather than being subject to EU GDPR.

Assuming that UK GDPR is adopted in the form that is currently being suggested, Google will have to process data in line with it, and we will still enjoy the same data rights as we currently do. Google’s Terms of Business should in it’s updated format, make life easier all round.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on GDPR as we progress through the transition period!