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Meta faces Europe-wide data privacy restrictions for flouting norms with targetted ads

Meta Platforms Inc. is poised to encounter Europe-wide restrictions on utilizing the personal data of Facebook and Instagram users for targeted advertising, Bloomberg reported. The move, which is being enforced by a panel of European data privacy regulators, was approved on October 27 and builds upon existing temporary measures in Norway.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, acting as the chief privacy overseer for Meta in the region, has a two-week window to impose a ban on processing personal data for behavioral advertising based on contractual and legitimate interest grounds, as per the report. This information was confirmed by Greet Gysen, a spokesperson for the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).

Also Read: How Europe’s new digital law will change the internet

Norway Sets Precedence

It’s worth noting that Norway’s data protection authority had advocated for this Europe-wide ban after previously implementing restrictions on Meta’s behavioral advertising in July, as per the report. These restrictions centered on tracking user activity on social media platforms in great detail and creating user profiles based on their interests, location, and content preferences.

Furthermore, in August, the Norwegian agency imposed a daily fine of 1 million kroner ($90,000) on Meta for failing to comply with the ban. This has resulted in cumulative penalties amounting to 79 million kroner, as reported by Tobias Judin, a spokesperson for the Norwegian watchdog, it said.

Legal Soup

The European Union’s top court had in July clarified that processing users’ personal data for advertisements without their consent goes against EU data protection regulations. This decision heightened the risk of further regulatory scrutiny for Meta.

Also Read: Meta’s European game seems to be hanging by a slim thread

The judgment emphasized that while users must have the option to individually refuse consent for unnecessary data processing, they should not be prevented from using the service. Instead, users should be provided with an equivalent alternative, possibly for a fee, without such data processing activities.

Meta’s Plans

As a response to this, Meta announced its intention to introduce ad-free access to Facebook and Instagram for European users through a subscription starting in November, the report added.

Now amid the new restrictions, Meta has unveiled its proposal to provide an ad-free version of their social media platforms for users willing to pay a subscription fee. The company asserts that this subscription model aligns with regulatory requirements.

Also Read | Meta fined $1.3 billion by EU for sending user data to US: Report

Meta, in a statement, emphasized that EDPB members were already aware of their subscription plan, and they had been actively engaged in discussions to reach a satisfactory resolution for all parties. The company finds the ban to be unjustifiably neglecting the comprehensive regulatory process.

Regulators are currently examining whether this plan addresses their concerns regarding the company’s data collection practices.

The primary focus of the Irish data protection watchdog at present is to conclude its in-depth assessment of the consent model, in collaboration with other European supervisory authorities.

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Updated: 01 Nov 2023, 02:16 PM IST

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