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Consumer advocates file suit against Facebook

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14.05.2024 08:04

Consumer advocates in Germany have filed a lawsuit against Facebook's parent company Meta. According to the consumer association (VZ), the fact that numerous Facebook and Instagram users had to decide last year to either continue using the services with personalized advertising or pay for freedom from advertising is unlawful.

"It is unacceptable that large companies such as Meta do not adhere to the applicable rules," said VZ-NRW board member Wolfgang Schuldzinski. A Meta spokesperson, however, disagreed and emphasized that the company had complied with the law.

The subscriptions were designed to give people control over whether Meta was allowed to use their data for personalized advertising, the company representative said. According to a ruling by the EU Court of Justice, ad-free subscription models are a legal step towards obtaining people's consent for personalized advertising.

"Deterrently high price"
In the view of the consumer advocates, the "pay or consent" question did not allow for a voluntary choice. This constituted a major breach of data protection. Meta had designed the offer options, including a "deterrently high price", so that users had no choice but to agree to free use - "and thus allow Meta comprehensive user tracking for the purpose of personalized advertisements", the consumer advice center complains.

They also criticize the fact that Meta did not make it sufficiently clear with the ad-free subscription that data was still being collected. "Users who are not aware of this may believe that their user behavior is not being stored after taking out the subscription," says Schuldzinski.

Complaint from Austria
This is not the first time that Meta has got into trouble with consumer protection organizations because of its "pay or consent" approach. In November, the data protection organization noyb filed a complaint with the Austrian data protection authority.

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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