HomeWinBuzzer NewsBEUC Files Complaint Against Meta Over Alleged Unfair Practices in Europe

BEUC Files Complaint Against Meta Over Alleged Unfair Practices in Europe

EU consumer group BEUC files complaint against Meta over ad-free subscription service, alleging unfair practices.

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The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) along with its 19 member groups, has lodged a formal complaint against Meta Platforms Inc. The complaint accuses the conglomerate of implementing “unfair commercial practices” in relation to the newly introduced ad-free subscription service for its and platforms. According to the BEUC, the move coerces users into a choice between surrendering personal data for ad targeting or paying for an ad-free experience.

Consumer Rights at Risk

Ursula Pachl, the Deputy Director General of BEUC, suggests that Meta's approach to pushing European users towards a paid subscription model conflicts with EU consumer legislation. The practices in question include creating a false sense of urgency by partially restricting access to the services, which Pachl deems “unfair” and a form of “deceptive and aggressive practices.” Furthermore, there's a growing concern that choosing a paid subscription might not offer the level of privacy users might expect, as their data could potentially still be collected for non-advertising purposes.

The Cost of Privacy

Meta has set its subscription prices at €9.99 per month for web access and €12.99 per month when subscribed through iOS and apps for both Facebook and Instagram. The company has defended these prices by comparing them to other popular subscription services like YouTube, Spotify, and Netflix. However, the crux of the issue lies not in the price but in the alleged binary choice between personal data use for ad targeting or a financial fee for privacy, which the BEUC argues should not be the case under GDPR and the Digital Markets Act provisions. These legal frameworks are designed to protect personal data and limit the leverage online services have in using such data when offering a free, ad-supported version.

Consumer protection authorities in the EU are now being urged to intervene and challenge Meta's practices, to not only ensure with European law but to uphold the privacy rights enshrined in the GDPR. The outcome of this complaint might set a significant precedent for how tech giants handle and monetization in the European market.

Earlier this year, the Facebook company was fined $1.3bn by the European Commission over failure to adhere to GDPR rules. The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) found that Meta had violated the GDPR by transferring personal data of EU users to the United States without adequate safeguards in place. The EDPB said that Meta had failed to obtain the necessary consent from users for the transfers, and that it had not used standard contractual clauses or other appropriate safeguards to protect the data.

GDPR is a law that was adopted by the EU in 2016. The law gives individuals more control over their personal data and requires companies to take steps to protect it. The GDPR has been hailed as a landmark piece of legislation, but it has also been criticized for being too complex and for imposing too heavy a burden on businesses.

SourceBEUC
Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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