European Human Rights Activists Protest Against Meta’s Paid Subscriptions for Ad-Free Service

The European Privacy Assurance Agency is pushing for regulatory bodies to oppose Meta Platforms’ proposal, which offers regional users a paid subscription in return for not receiving targeted advertisements. A group of 28 human rights organizations warned that this practice could be adopted by other companies.

A joint letter signed by activist Max Schrems, his organization NOYB (None Of Your Business), the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Wikimedia Europe, and other organizations was sent to the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). The agency is expected to respond soon to Meta’s proposed model, which offers either user consent for data collection for targeted advertising or a paid social network subscription. Previously, Dutch, Norwegian, and Hamburg privacy protection bodies had requested the EDPB’s opinion on this matter.

“The ad-free subscription is a response to recent regulatory changes, recommendations, and decisions by leading European regulators and courts. Specifically, it complies with a supreme court ruling in Europe: in July, the European Union Court approved the subscription model as a way of enabling people to give consent to process data for personalized advertising,” said a representative of Meta.

“If the “pay or agree” principle is allowed, it won’t be limited to news sites or social networks and will start to be used in any sector able to monetize personal data through consent. This would fundamentally undermine the GDPR, the highest European standard for data protection, and wash away all realistic measures of protection against surveillance capitalism. We believe that Meta and other companies who seem likely to follow this example, understand the fact that most users will not be able to, or want to, pay a fee,” human rights activists claim.

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