LONDON – European . Union regulators on Wednesday hit Facebook’s core meta . With hundreds of millions in fines for privacy violations and banned. The company from forcing users in the 27-country bloc to consent to personalized ads based on their online activity.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission imposed fines totaling 390 million euros ($414 million) in its ruling on two cases. That could. Shake up Meta’s business model of targeting users with ads based on what they do online. The company said it would appeal.
A decision in a third case involving Mater’s WhatsApp messaging service is expected later this month.
Meta and other big tech companies have come under pressure from European Union privacy rules. Some of the strictest in the world. Irish regulators have already fined Meta four more for data privacy violations since. 2021 totaling more than 900 million euros, and there are other open cases against several Silicon Valley companies.
Meta also faces regulatory headaches from the E.U. Antitrust officials in Brussels are flexing . Their muscles against the tech giants: They last month accused. The company of distorting competition in classified ads.
The Irish watchdog – Meta’s main European data privacy regulator because its regional headquarters are in Dublin – fined the. Company 210 million euros for EU violations. An additional 180 million euros for breaches of data privacy rules involving Facebook and involving Instagram,
The decision stems from a complaint filed in May 2018. When the 27-country bloc’s privacy rules. Known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, came into force.
Previously, Meta relied on obtaining informed consent from users to process their personal data to serve . Them personalized, or behavioral, ads based on what users search for online, the websites they visit or the videos they click on.
When the GDPR came into force. Companies changed the legal basis for processing user data by adding a clause in. Their terms of service for advertising, effectively forcing users to agree that their data could be used. This violates privacy rules in the E.U.
The Irish watchdog was in favor of META but changed its position after the draft decision was sent to an EU board. Data protection regulators, many of whom objected.
In its final decision. The Irish watchdog said that Meta was not entitled to rely on the legal basis of “contract” to serve behavioral ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Meta said in a statement that “that our approach respects. The GDPR, and we are thus disappointed by these decisions and intend to appeal both the substance of. The judgment and the penalty.”
Meta has three months to ensure its “processing operations” follow E.U. The rules, but, do not specify what the company has to do in governance. Meta noted that the decision does not prevent it from displaying personalized ads, it only covers the legal basis for handling user data.
Max Schrem, the Austrian lawyer and privacy activist who filed the complaint. Aid the ruling could deal a major blow to companies profits in the EU. And at any time their minds can change
“The decision also ensures a level playing field with other advertisers who also need to get opt-in consent,” he said.
Making changes to follow . The decision can add costs to a company already facing increasing business challenges. Meta reported two straight quarters of revenue declines as ad sales fell due to competition from TikTok. And it cut 11,000 jobs amid broader tech industry woes.