Just as Apple announced its plans to require “Privacy Manifests” to more proactively monitor and enforce their long-held policy that prohibits fingerprinting last summer, and Google planning to prevent fingerprinting in 2024 with the SDK Runtime component of Android Privacy Sandbox, Meta is now taking actions as well on its handling of user data to align with EU’s privacy regulations.
The Extent of the EDPB Directive
In a pivotal decision impacting the digital landscape, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has mandated Meta-owned social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, to discontinue the display of behavioral advertisements, which targets users by harvesting their data, within European countries.
The EDPB, citing a breach of European privacy regulations, decreed that the highly targeted ads employed by Meta on its platforms violated these regulations. Meta, previously known as Facebook’s parent company, has been given a strict two-week ultimatum to conform to the EDPB regulations. Failure to comply within this period may lead to the imposition of stringent measures.
This directive extends its reach across the European Economic Area (EEA), encompassing the 27 EU member states, along with Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
The heart of the matter lies in the collection of various user data by Facebook and Instagram, encompassing details such as location, age, education, and hobbies, utilized to present targeted advertisements to users. However, regulators have sternly noted Meta’s lack of a “valid legal basis” for the processing of such personal information.
Meta's Response and Implications for the Digital Advertising Sphere in Europe
In response to this ruling, Meta announced the forthcoming introduction of subscription-based versions of Facebook and Instagram. Priced around €10 per month, these alternatives promise an ad-free experience for users who opt into this paid service. Furthermore, Meta also confirmed its intent to seek explicit consent from European users before displaying personalized ads, aligning with the evolving landscape of privacy regulations.
The decision by the EDPB and Meta’s proactive steps towards compliance signify a significant shift in the digital advertising sphere, underscoring the growing emphasis on user privacy and consent in online interactions within the European region.