EU finds Meta’s ‘pay or consent’ advertising model violates tech rules

The European Union said Meta’s “pay or consent” advertising model for European users violates the bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), according to preliminary findings released Monday.

Meta launched the new ad model — which requires users to pay for ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram or consent to the use of their personal data for targeted advertising — in response to regulatory changes last year.

The European Commission found that the ad model violates the DMA because it doesn’t allow users to opt in to a service that uses less of their personal data and doesn’t allow them to “exercise their right to freely consent” to the use of their data.

If the commission’s preliminary findings are confirmed, Meta could face a fine of up to 10 percent of its total global revenue.

“Our investigation aims to ensure contestability in markets where gatekeepers like Meta have been accumulating personal data of millions of EU citizens over many years,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president in charge of competition policy, in a statement.

“We want to empower citizens to be able to take control over their own data and choose a less personalised ads experience,” she added.

A Meta spokesperson argued that the company’s ad-free subscription “follows the direction of the highest court in Europe and complies with the DMA.”

“We look forward to further constructive dialogue with the European Commission to bring this investigation to a close,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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