Meta’s Targeted Advertising Faces EU-Wide Ban Following Norwegian Precedent

Nov2,2023 #EU #Meta #Norwegian precedenr
Meta Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: November 02, 2023 at 19:21 IST

The European data regulator has taken a significant step by expanding a ban initially imposed by non-EU member Norway on “behavioral advertising” on Facebook and Instagram to encompass all 30 nations within the European Union and the European Economic Area.

This decision, announced on Wednesday, represents a substantial setback for Meta Platforms, the U.S. tech giant that owns these two social media platforms, as it has been a vocal opponent of efforts to restrict such advertising practices.

The ban on behavioral advertising, which involves targeting users by collecting their data, has put Meta at risk of substantial fines, potentially up to 4% of its global revenue, as indicated by the Norwegian data regulator.

This momentous development emerged as a directive from the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to the data regulator in Ireland, where Meta’s European headquarters are based, ordering the imposition of a permanent ban on the company’s utilization of behavioral advertising within the next two weeks, according to a statement provided by EDPB to Reuters.

“On 27 October, the EDPB adopted an urgent binding decision … to impose a ban on the processing of personal data for behavioral advertising on the legal bases of contract and legitimate interest across the entire European Economic Area,” the statement clarified.

In response to these developments, Meta has announced its intention to offer users in the EU and the EEA the choice to provide consent and plans to introduce a subscription model in November to comply with regulatory requirements.

A Meta spokesperson highlighted that EDPB members had been informed of this plan for weeks, and discussions with them had been ongoing to find a mutually agreeable solution for all parties involved.

However, Meta’s assertions have been met with skepticism as Datatilsynet, the Norwegian data regulator, has been imposing daily fines of 1 million crowns ($90,000) on Meta since August 7 for violating users’ privacy by utilizing their data for advertising, including location and browsing behavior, a practice common among major tech companies.

While this fine was initially enforceable only in Norway, Datatilsynet referred it to the European regulator in September. With the new EU/EEA-wide ban in place, any non-compliance would constitute a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), subjecting Meta to potential fines of up to 4% of its global turnover, as noted by Tobias Judin, the head of Datatilsynet’s international section.

The GDPR represents the European Union’s framework for data protection and privacy rules. It is important to note that while Norway is not an EU member, it is part of the European single market. This decision has implications for approximately 250 million Facebook and Instagram users across Europe.

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