In a little more than two months, Facebook, Inc. (Nasdaq: FB ) and other major internet companies that rely heavily on user data collection and analysis will face one of their biggest regulatory challenges in history. On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect, and analysts are still not sure how large of an impact the new data rules could have on Facebook.

The GDPR is a new set of regulations in Europe that is intended to give internet users more control over personal data. It will provide European internet users a set of guaranteed rights, including the rights to edit, transfer or delete any data companies have collected on them. Companies will also be required to obtain a user's consent before collecting data. The types of personal data covered by the GDPR regulations include user names, photos, email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, banking information and social security numbers.

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Facebook collects a trove of user data, which it uses to optimize its massive online advertising business. Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak says it's unclear exactly how strictly the new regulations will be enforced.

For example, it's not explicitly clear in the regulations which types of personal data, such as location data, mobile device ID numbers and IP addresses, may not be covered by the new rules.

In addition, there are some vague exemptions.

"'Legitimate interest' is an exception that essentially removes the need to get consent from consumers to use their data if it can be demonstrated that the company collected data legally, used it justifiably, and processed it responsibly," Nowak says.

He says this exemption will likely apply to data used to prevent fraud or other crimes, but the scope of the exemption is not clear at this time.

However, the most potentially dangerous unknown for Facebook is the type of user consent required to meet the GDPR standards.

"Not only does FB (as example) have to obtain consent ... but so too do the advertisers who obtain consumer data (that is often used in FB ad targeting)," Nowak says.

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If regulators require active, recurring consent, users would potentially have to check a box every so often to opt in to data collection, a process which could cost Facebook valuable data.

For now, Nowak is optimistic the regulations will not be too damaging for Facebook. Morgan Stanley has a "buy" rating and $230 price target for FB stock .

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Raymond Mitchell, Author

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