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Microsoft Lumia phone
The “Let’s Go” message on a Microsoft Lumia phone takes on an ironic meaning in the wake of Britain’s vote to exit the European Union. (Credit: MIcrosoft)

A new law proposed by the U.K. government could give its citizens more control over how companies like Google and Facebook manage their personal data and make it easier for cloud companies to operate in Europe by aligning U.K. and European Union laws.

The law, as reported by The Guardian, is designed to bring a post-Brexit U.K. in line with European data protection laws. Pending European Union data protection laws will give consumers the ability to force Google or Facebook to delete content at will, and if the U.K. doesn’t follow suit, companies operating cloud computing services would be forced to maintain separate data storage facilities for U.K. customers and European Union customers.

Tech companies would like the U.K. government to align itself with the E.U. on this issue to prevent that outcome, yet there’s still a lot of uncertainty around how these laws will be enforced when they take effect next year. F5 Networks CEO Francois Locoh-Donou told GeekWire last month that many of its European customers are waiting to see exactly how these laws will be enforced before making decisions about cloud infrastructure projects.

Google and Facebook get most of the attention, but these laws could also affect other cloud companies that do business in the U.K. and Europe. Data protection laws might be a relief for consumers concerned about how their personal data is being harvested and processed, but differences in how those laws are enforced from country to country could upend one of the main principles of cloud computing: that data can be processed and stored across borders in the name of efficiency.

The proposed U.K. law will be discussed and voted on after the summer recess, according to the Guardian. It’s just one of the many tricky hoops U.K. tech companies — or tech companies with U.K. customers — will have to jump through depending on how Brexit is conducted.

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