Meta Accused of Illegally Harvesting the Personal Data of European Users on a Massive Scale

Meta Accused of Illegal Personal Data Collection by European Consumer Org

Eight affiliates of the Bureau of European Consumer Unions (BEUC), a pan-European consumer advocacy collective of 45 regional institutions have lodged complaints against Meta with national data protection bodies.

Advocates claim that Meta accumulates excessive amounts of data concerning its users, which includes information on sexual orientation, emotional state, and even potential dependencies. They argue that such data collection cannot be consented to by consumers. This may potentially be a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the main piece of legislation governing how private citizens’ data is collected and processed in Europe.

Meta Denies the Allegations

Meta vehemently denies these allegations, asserting that its practices align with GDPR regulations. One of the company’s representatives said, “We take our regulatory responsibilities very seriously and are confident that our approach complies with the GDPR. Since 2019, we have revised Meta’s privacy policy. We are accountable to regulators, officeholders, and experts for people’s privacy. We work with them to ensure that our service adheres to best practices and meets high data protection standards.”

Prior GDPR Violations by Meta

In May of the previous year, Meta was slapped with a staggering €1.2 billion fine for breaching GDPR laws by transferring user data from Facebook to US-based servers. This fine remains the largest penalty for violating the region’s law since its implementation in 2018. In October, Meta was ordered to obtain explicit consent from its users for processing personal data to serve targeted advertisements. Shortly after, the company introduced an ad-free subscription service for European users, with prices starting at €9.99 per month for using Facebook and Instagram. The subscription fee will increase as of tomorrow, depending on the number of accounts.

Unfair Practices by Meta

Despite Meta asserting that the subscription service is in compliance with GDPR rules, the BEUC disagrees. The organization deems Meta’s proposal as an “unfair and misleading choice”, pointing out the obscurity in the company’s data processing mechanisms. Moreover, due to Meta’s dominance in the social media market, users cannot freely opt out of using its platforms without severing ties with family and friends.

Related Posts