European Union (EU) regulators have found that the way Meta uses targeted advertising across Facebook and Instagram is illegal in the region, and has issued both services with fines totalling €390 million.
A statement given by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) claims that the company has three months to change up its advertising practices or face further action.
The DPC rejected the notion that, by signing up to Facebook and Instagram, users agree to receive personalised ads based on their data.
Meta and data privacy
As such, one of the core changes Facebook are likely to make is to offer European users an “opt-in” for the use of the data to serve ads, according to Max Schrems, the honorary chair of the privacy advocacy group Noyb.
In its original ruling, the DPC agreed with Meta’s legal argument that user participation forms a contract, but now claims that it’s bound by the recommendations of the EU’s European Data Protection Board (EDPB).
This is a change of tune for the DPC, but it’s still, mostly, in Meta’s corner. In the same statement, it claimed that it was seeking a ruling against further EDPB pressure to compel the Commission to investigate all of Meta’s data processing practices across Facebook and Instagram.
Still, Schrems is confident that the planned opt-in will provide the means for vital and transparent consent to be given for Meta, and other tech giants operating in Europe, to collect European user data.
“This is a huge blow to Meta’s profits in the EU,” he claimed. “People now need to be asked if they want their data to be used for ads or not. They must have a ‘yes or no’ option and can change their mind at any time. The decision also ensures a level playing field with other advertisers that also need to get opt-in consent.
However, It’s unlikely that this is going to be an open and shut case, Meta has said that it’s “disappointed” with the decision, plans to appeal, and believes that it will not come to providing users with an opt-in for data use.
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Luke Hughes holds the role of Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro, producing news, features and deals content across topics ranging from computing to cloud services, cybersecurity, data privacy and business software.