Meta’s Ad Practices Ruled Illegal Under E.U. Law

The decision is one of the most consequential issued under the E.U.’s landmark data-protection law and creates a new business headwind for the social media giant.
12 January 2023
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European union regulators has found Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, engaging in activity that ‘illegally forced users to effectively accept personalised ads’.

The decision, including a fine of 390 million euros, has the potential to require Meta to make costly changes to its advertising-based business in the European Union, one of its largest markets.

The ruling is one of the most consequential judgments since the 27-nation bloc, home to roughly 450 million people, enacted a landmark data-privacy law aimed at restricting the ability of Facebook and other companies from collecting information about users without their prior consent. The law took effect in 2018.
The case hinges on how Meta receives legal permission from users to collect their data for personalised advertising. The company includes language in its terms of service agreement, the very lengthy statement that users must accept before accessing services like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, that effectively means users must allow their data to be used for personalised ads or stop using Meta’s social media services altogether.

Ireland’s data privacy board, which serves as Meta’s main regulator in the E.U. because the company’s European headquarters are in Dublin, said E.U. authorities determined that placing the legal consent within the terms of service essentially forced users to accept personalised ads, violating the European law known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R.

- CyberBeat

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