EU Fines Meta $416m

On January 4th the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC)  announced the conclusion of two inquiries into the data processing operations of Meta Platforms Ireland Limited (“Meta Ireland”) in connection with the delivery of its Facebook and Instagram services,” and Meta has been fined €390m ($416 or £346m) for breaking EU data rules.

The DPC announced in Dublin that the way Meta used peoples' data for ads on Facebook and Instagram, which it owns, was unlawful. 

The regulator said that Facebook and Instagram can not employ "force consent" by telling users that they have to accept how their data is used or leave the platform. Right now, Meta has three months to change how it receives and uses data to target ads and Meta says it will appeal, stressing that the decision does not prevent personalised advertising on its platforms. Facebook collected advertising revenue of $118bn (£97.8bn) in 202.

Privacy campaigners say the decision is a major victory and means Meta will have to give users real choice over how their data is used to target online advertisements. 

This recent DPC investigation was started by complaints made in 2018 by privacy campaigner Max Schrems, on behalf of two users in Austria and Belgium. The complaint was brought just as the EU's new data and privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), came into operation.

Meta's spokespeople say that it plans to challenge the size of the fines imposed, "given that regulators themselves disagreed with each other on this issue". The company argues that far from forcing people to accept how it uses data, it gives consumers a number of tools to control how their data is used. 

In September 2021, Meta was forced to pay out $420 million for how it handled teens’ Instagram data, in March the fine was $17 million for record-keeping problems while in October 2021, Meta was fined around $233 million for various violations.

The latest DPC ruling could damage Meta’s EU profits, because, according to Austrian lawyer Max Schrems who sued Meta in 2018, people now must consent for their data to be used for ads and can also withdraw their consent at any time.

DPC:      BBC:      Gizmodo:     Forbes:      Press United:       Focus Washington:

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