Meta suffered a major loss on Wednesday that could severely harm its Instagram and Facebook advertising businesses. This was after European Union regulators discovered that Meta had illegally forced users accept personalized ads.
Meta could be forced to make costly changes to its European Union ad-based business, which is one of its largest markets, as a result of the decision.
This is the most important ruling since the 27-nation Federation of almost 450 million people passed a landmark data privacy law to limit Facebook’s ability to collect personal information without users’ consent. The law became effective in 2018.
Meta must obtain legal permission from users to use their data for personalized ads. The company’s Terms of Service agreement — the extremely lengthy statement that users must accept to access services like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — includes language that effectively means that users must either allow their data to be used for personalized ads or stop using Meta social media services altogether.
The Meta’s EU lead regulator, the Irish Data Privacy Council, acts as Meta’s Irish Data Privacy Council because Meta’s European headquarters in Dublin is there. According to EU authorities, placing legal consent within the terms and service essentially forced users into accepting personalized ads. This is a breach the European agreement. The law is known as the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR).
Meta has three months in which to explain how she will comply. Although the decision doesn’t specify what the company must do it could mean Meta allowing users to decide whether they wish their data to be used in targeted promotions.
Meta’s business will be hampered if too many users don’t share their data. Information about a user’s digital history — such as which Instagram videos prompt a person to stop scrolling, or what types of links a person clicks on when browsing Facebook feeds — is used by marketers to get ads in front of the people most likely to buy. Meta made $118 billion through these practices 2021.
According to Dan Ives, an analyst from Wedbush Securities, the ruling could put at risk 5 to 7 percent all Meta advertising revenue. He said, “This can be very devastating.”
Contrast with the regulations in the United States where there is no federal privacy law and only a few States such as California have taken steps towards creating rules similar to the ones in the European Union, the penalty is a stark contrast. Meta may make changes to its website as a result of this ruling. Many tech companies use EU rules globally, as it is easier to implement than limiting them to Europe.
The EU ruling is the latest against Meta, which had been wrestling with a file. Significant decrease in advertising revenueApple’s 2021 update gave iPhone users the option to decide whether advertisers can track them. Meta estimated that Apple’s changes would result in a loss of $10 billion by 2022. Consumer surveys have shown that most users have blocked tracking.
Meta’s problems arise as it attempts to diversify its business away from social media and into the virtual reality world known as the metaverse. The share price of the company has fallen by more than 60% in the past year. layoffs of thousands of employees.
Wednesday’s announcement is about two complaints that were filed against Meta in 2018. Meta announced it would appeal the decision. This could lead to a long legal battle that could test the strength GDPR and the aggressiveness of regulators to force companies into changing their business practices.
Facebook stated in a statement that it believes its approach respects GDP and was disappointed by the decisions made.
Privacy groups hail the outcome as a long overdue response by companies that have been collecting as much information as possible online about people in order to deliver personalized ads. Critics also pointed out that the four-year delay in reaching a decision was a sign of slow and weak enforcement of the GDPR.
“European law enforcement has not yet delivered on the promises of the GDPR,” said Jonny Ryan, privacy rights campaigner and senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. The ruling states that “big tech companies might be on a bumpier path.”
There has been some disagreement within the EU about how to enforce the GDPR. Although the Irish authorities initially believed Meta’s use of the Terms of Service to request permission was legal, it was overturned later by a council comprising representatives from all EU countries.
Meta stated in its statement that there was a lack in regulatory clarity on the issue. “Debates among regulators, decision-makers over which legal basis is best for a given situation have been ongoing for some time.”
Helen Dixon, chairperson of Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, stated that regulators should be an honest broker and not cave to privacy campaigners who demand rulings that aren’t up to legal challenges.
“We are not going to get results just by trying to rewrite the GDPR as we would like to see it written,” Ms. Dixon said in an interview.
The European Union is showing signs of a wider and more intense effort to crackdown on the largest technology companies in the world. Last year, the European Union passed new laws that aim to curb anti-competitive practices in tech and force social media companies like Facebook to be more vigilant in monitoring user-generated content. Amazon, as part of a settlement reached with EU regulators, agreed to make major changes in the way products are sold through its platform.
Meta was fined by Irish authorities about $275 Million in November over a data breach that occurred last year and led to the release of personal information for more than 500 million Facebook users.
The European Court of Justice, the highest court of the European Union, will also be ruling on cases in 2023 that could result in further changes to Meta’s data collection practices.
Many believe that the app is not up to EU policymakers’ expectations of strong technology regulation. Max Schrems, an Austrian activist for data protection, stated that thousands of data protection complaints still need attention. His nonprofit organization, NOYB, filed the complaints in 2018. This led to Wednesday’s announcement.
He said that although you may appear to have all the rights, enforcement does not occur.
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