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Tech News & Podcast | Africa

Meta Faces EU Charges Over Violations of User Privacy and Tech Regulations

Meta was forced to halt its intentions to use personal data in Europe to train its artificial intelligence technology due to complaints from privacy groups. On Monday, the EU charged Meta, the owner of Facebook, with violating the bloc’s digital regulations, opening the door for possible fines of billions of euros.

The accusations against the US tech giant come after a ruling against Apple last week, which was the first time official proceedings under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) had been brought by Brussels.

The most recent instance is on Meta’s new Facebook and Instagram ad-free membership model, which has drawn numerous privacy-related complaints.

With Meta’s “pay or consent” system, users must either agree to share their data with Facebook and Instagram in order to continue using the platforms for free, or pay to prevent data collection.

As per the European Commission, Meta was notified of its “preliminary view” that the model introduced by the business the previous year “fails to comply” with the DMA.

“This binary choice fails to provide users with a less personalized but equivalent version of Meta’s social networks and forces them to consent to the combination of their personal data,” a statement from the EU’s strong antitrust authority stated.

These conclusions follow the commission’s March launch of an investigation into Meta under the Digital Market Abuse Directive (DMA), which compels the largest internet firms globally to abide with EU regulations intended to extend online choice to European consumers.

The model, according to Meta, “complies with the DMA.”

“We look forward to further constructive dialogue with the European Commission to bring this investigation to a close,” a representative for Meta stated.

Now that Meta has access to the results, it may respond to them without risk of fines if it modifies the model to allay EU worries.

However, if the commission’s opinion is upheld, Meta may be subject to sanctions under the DMA of up to 10% of its whole worldwide revenue. Recidivism can increase this to as much as 20 percent.

Last year, Meta brought in over $135 billion (or 125 billion euros) in total sales. The EU may also dissolve companies, but only in extreme circumstances.

DMA Regulations: EU Challenges Meta’s Data Consent Model and Tech Dominance

The EU considers Meta and other businesses, such as Apple, as “gatekeepers” under the DMA and forbids them from requiring authorization from EU customers in order to use particular services or features.

The commission claimed that Meta’s business model prevented users from giving their “freely consent” for Facebook and Instagram to share their data when using Meta’s ad services.
The top tech enforcer for the EU, Commissioner Thierry Breton, stated, “The DMA is there to give back to the users the power to decide how their data is used and ensure innovative companies can compete on equal footing with tech giants on data access.”

By the end of March 2025, the commission will make a ruling regarding the compliance of Meta’s model with DMA.

The EU has demonstrated its commitment to forcing major internet corporations to alter their practices. The commission informed Apple last week that the restrictions on the App Store were preventing developers from freely directing customers to other sources for deals.

Google is being investigated by the EU for comparable issues with its Google Play store. There are more businesses covered by the DMA than Apple and Meta. Aside from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, all have to abide by the rules. Later this year, the massive online travel company Booking.com will have to follow the regulations.

Meta has amassed billions of dollars by using user data to provide incredibly tailored advertisements. However, in recent years, it has been inundated with concerns regarding how it processes data.

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