Meta’s “Pay or Consent” Model Deemed Unfair by EU Commission

Meta’s “Pay or Consent” Model Deemed Unfair by EU Commission

The European Commission has ruled that Meta’s “pay or consent” model violates EU competition rules and data protection principles. The model, which forces users to either pay for an ad-free experience or consent to extensive data tracking, has been criticized for lacking transparency and exploiting Meta’s dominant market position. Consumer groups argue that this approach unfairly limits user choice and breaches GDPR guidelines, sparking new regulatory challenges for the tech giant​.

The ruling follows complaints from multiple European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) members, who assert that the model misleads consumers into believing they are opting for a more privacy-friendly option by paying for a subscription. However, the reality involves continued tracking and profiling. BEUC also claims that Meta’s approach fails to comply with GDPR principles, such as purpose limitation, data minimisation, fair processing, and transparency.

Meta disputes the allegations, stating that it complies with GDPR and that its subscription model addresses regulatory developments and judgments from European courts. Despite these claims, the ruling adds to a series of legal challenges Meta faces in Europe, including a record €1.2 billion GDPR fine from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission last year.

The EU’s Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act further complicate Meta’s regulatory landscape, impacting its ability to operate smoothly within the region. Despite these hurdles, Meta continues to thrive financially, with significant revenue generated from advertising, indicating that regulatory challenges have yet to severely impact its bottom line​.

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