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Meta Platforms’ Paid Ad-Free Service Is The Subject Of An Austrian Privacy Complaint.



Meta Platforms' Paid Ad-Free Service Is The Subject Of An Austrian Privacy Complaint.

(CTN News) – The recent launch of Meta Platforms’ subscription service without advertisements in Europe has encountered a significant challenge. On Tuesday, the advocacy group NOYB lodged a complaint with an Austrian regulator, asserting that the service essentially involves paying a fee to safeguard privacy.

Last month, Meta unveiled this service for Facebook and Instagram, emphasizing its alignment with EU regulations that grant users the option to decide whether their data can be gathered and utilized for personalized advertisements.

The monthly cost for the ad-free service is 9.99 euros ($10.90) for Web users and 12.99 euros for iOS and Android users.

According to Meta, a subscription model is considered a valid form of consent for an advertising-funded service, which aligns with a ruling made by Europe’s top court in July.

Alternatively, users have the option to choose a free service that is supported by ads.

NOYB (None Of Your Business), a digital rights group based in Vienna and founded by privacy activist Max Schrems, expressed disagreement with Meta regarding the concept of consent.

In a statement, NOYB data protection lawyer Felix Mikolasch stated that EU law mandates that user consent must be given freely and genuinely.

However, Meta charges a ‘privacy fee’ of up to 250 euros per year, which goes against this law. NOYB has filed a complaint with the Austrian Data Protection Authority and has also criticized the amount of the fee.

The group further added that the cost is unacceptable and that industry numbers indicate that only 3 percent of people want to be tracked, while more than 99 percent do not exercise their choice when faced with a ‘privacy fee.’ If Meta is allowed to continue with this practice, other companies will soon follow suit.

In contrast, a basic subscription plan from Netflix costs 7.99 euros, YouTube Premium from Alphabet is priced at approximately 12 euros, and Spotify’s Premium service is priced at around 11 euros.

NOYB, an organization that has lodged numerous complaints against major tech companies such as Alphabet Google, and Meta for privacy breaches, has called upon the Austrian privacy authority to initiate an accelerated procedure to halt Meta’s activities and impose a monetary penalty.

The complaint is expected to be referred to the Irish data protection watchdog, as Meta’s European headquarters are located in Ireland.


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