Non-US Twitter accounts now subject to EU Data Protection rules

By EDRi · April 22, 2015

On 17 April 2015, Twitter revised its privacy policy, explaining that it will change the location of processing of the account information of users outside the United States. On its website Twitter announced that the services for non-US users are now provided by its subsidiary based in Dublin, Ireland. Therefore, these accounts will no more be subject to the United States law but to EU privacy and data protection rules The updated privacy policy will become effective as of 18 May 2015.

In the past, Ireland has often been criticised for its soft approach to data protection. Indeed, Dublin has become a very attractive place for Internet companies operating outside of Europe, as a base for their international and European operations, due to its very corporation-friendly tax regime. Another reason is the country’s rather small office of the Data Protection Commissioner which is faced with the challenging task to regulate and supervise both domestic and international companies.

Nevertheless, this change in Twitter’s privacy policy is rather significant since it provides greater privacy protections to users outside the US. Europe’s data protection regime puts far more pressure on Internet companies, whereas the US imposes fewer restrictions regarding the sharing of personal data. Moreover, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) “right to be forgotten” ruling against Spain opened the door for privacy regulators, even outside Spain, to enforce EU privacy laws. Accordingly, IT companies which base their European operations in Ireland, are now also under the scrutiny of privacy regulators in other European Member States.

In addition, Twitter made some clarifications in its privacy policy. For example, the company clarified that it is possible to sign up for Twitter services using a pseudonym, or using a phone number as contact information.

Twitter accounts outside of the US now fall under EU data protection rules (20.04.2015.)

Twitter Help center – Privacy updates

Twitter provides greater privacy protection to users in Europe, but not the US (19.04.2015.)

Twitter updates privacy policy for non-US accounts, moving jurisdiction to Ireland (19.04.2015.)

(Contribution by Morana Perušić, EDRi intern)