ALBAWABA — Facebook owner Meta said on Thursday it would rethink how it collects data on users in Europe after it got fined for failing to get proper permission from Eurozone consumers.
In December, after failing to convince European Union regulators that gathering data to serve up tailored ads was a necessary part of its contract with users Meta was hit with a 390 million euro fine by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission.
"In breach of its obligations in relation to transparency, information in relation to the legal basis relied on by was not clearly outlined to users, with the result that users had insufficient clarity as to what processing operations were being carried out on their personal data," the Data Protection Commission wrote in its Jan. 4 announcement of Meta's fine.
Tech firms use data to serve up highly targeted ads and they have struggled to comply with the strict rules of the E.U.'s massive 2018 General Data Protection Regulation.
Starting on from April 5, Meta said it would start relying on "legitimate interest", a part of the GDPR that can let companies sidestep the strictest rules.
However, NOYB, the European Center for Digital Rights, which has filed complaints against the tech giants across Europe, was very unimpressed.
"Meta is switching one illegal practice for another illegal practice," said Max Schrems, honorary chairman of NOYB.
Schrems said Meta's move was a "slight improvement" as it would allow European users of Facebook and Instagram to opt out of targeted advertising.
But he accused the firm of conducting an "absurd game" and promised to continue the legal fight.
Meta said it believed its justifications were legal under GDRP and stressed that it was business as usual.
"It is important to note that this legal change does not prevent personalized advertising on our platform, nor does it affect how advertisers, businesses or users experience our products," the Meta said in a blog post.
According to The Wall Street Journal sources, the move marks the first time Meta is allowing Facebook and Instagram users in Europe to opt out of tracking after they submit an online form expressing their objections to its tracking of in-app activity ads and then the company will evaluate the user’s request and possibly implement the change.
Meta is doing everything it can to prevent users from opting out while seemingly giving them a way out, offering a cumbersome opt-out procedure, could spark even more complaints by European consumers.