Privacy complaint targets Meta's European service

Meta Platforms' recently launched paid ad-free subscription service in Europe, which removes ads for a fee, is facing a privacy complaint filed by advocacy group NOYB with an Austrian regulator.

Publication: 28.11.2023 - 12:35
Privacy complaint targets Meta's European service
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The service, available for Facebook and Instagram users, charges 9.99 euros monthly for web users and 12.99 euros for iOS and Android users. This move, according to Meta, is in compliance with EU rules requiring user consent for data collection for targeted ads, with the option for a free, ad-supported service still available.

Vienna-based NOYB, led by privacy activist Max Schrems, argues that Meta's approach contradicts EU law, which mandates genuine free consent. NOYB criticizes Meta for charging a 'privacy fee' of up to 250 euros per year, essentially for exercising data protection rights. The group also contends that the fee is excessive and pointed out that industry figures show a low preference for being tracked, with most users not opting out due to the fee.

Meta defends the subscription model, stating it balances European regulatory requirements while offering user choice and enabling the company to serve people in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland. A Meta spokesperson noted that the pricing aligns with similar subscriptions in Europe, citing costs for Netflix, YouTube Premium, and Spotify Premium.

NOYB, known for filing numerous privacy complaints against major tech firms, has urged the Austrian privacy authority to initiate an expedited process to halt Meta's practice and potentially impose a fine. The complaint is likely to be transferred to the Irish data protection watchdog, which supervises Meta due to its European headquarters being in Ireland.

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