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Facebook is accused of allowing UK-based data company Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal details of more than 50 million users without their permission to target them during the 2016 USA presidential election and the Brexit referendum, Xinhua reported.

After Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Congress he pledged to protect the privacy of its users, the social media behemoth appears to be making an end run around a European law that would protect people's online data, according to a report on Thursday.

If tomorrow the law of the European Union, which does not allow companies to collect data about people online without their consent, will enter into force, nearly 1.9 billion users of Facebook around the world will come under his protection.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) emphasized that the General Data Protection Regulation that will apply as of May 26 will give citizens control over their personal data and set global standards.

The change comes as Facebook is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world since disclosing last month that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, setting off wider concerns about how it handles user data. Since it has to make changes anyway, Facebook wouldn't be going too far out of its way to give users worldwide the same privileges.

It has 239 million users in the United States and Canada, 370 million in Europe and 1.52 billion elsewhere.

Facebook, like many other USA technology companies, established an Irish subsidiary in 2008 and took advantage of the country's low corporate tax rates, routing through it revenue from some advertisers outside North America.

The privacy law is the latest attempt by European Union regulators to rein in mostly American tech giants who they blame for avoiding tax, stifling competition and encroaching on digital privacy rights.

As it turned out, more than one billion users of social networks around the world up to that time was under the protection of European laws.

The change means the 1.5 billion affected users will not be able to file complaints with Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner or in Irish courts. Such an option doesn't seem likely to take off just yet, as 77% of Americans said they wouldn't pay for an ad-free Facebook, per recent research by Toluna per Recode.


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