Meta targeted in privacy complaints by 8 EU consumer groups

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 11:34 PM

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Meta Platforms was hit with privacy complaints on Thursday as eight EU consumer groups asked watchdogs to act against the Facebook owner for allegedly breaching the bloc’s privacy rules when it hoovers up user data.

The complaints by the consumer groups in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain to data protection authorities in their countries are the latest grievances against Meta’s trove of user data.

The consumer bodies said Meta is not complying with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules on fair processing, data minimisation and purpose limitation and that there was no legal basis to the company’s data collection and processing.

“Surveillance-based business models pose all kinds of problems under the GDPR and it’s time for data protection authorities to stop Meta’s unfair data processing and its infringing of people’s fundamental rights,” Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of the European Consumer Organisation said in a statement.

She also criticised Meta’s recent launch of paid, ad-free subscriptions to Facebook and Instagram in Europe, which the company said aims to comply with new EU tech rules.

But critics say this amounts to users having to pay for their privacy. Users who do not mind ads can continue to use the two services for free.

“Meta’s offer to consumers is smoke and mirrors to cover up what is, at its core, the same old hoovering up of all kinds of sensitive information about people’s lives which it then monetises through its invasive advertising model,” Pachl said.

Meta has said subscription for no ads addresses the latest regulatory developments, guidance and judgments shared by European regulators and the courts in recent years.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Lincoln Feast)