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Consumer groups, incl. from Greece, file privacy complaint against Meta

Consumer groups from eight countries in the European BEUC network, including from Greece, filed on Thursday complaints against Meta with their national data protection authorities, alleging Meta has failed to adhere to GDPR principles on the processing of personal data.

The groups  asked their national data protection watchdogs to act against the Facebook owner for alleged breaches of the bloc’s privacy rules when it collects user data.
The complaints by consumer groups in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain  add to previous grievances over Meta’s trove of user data, reuters noted.

The groups object to a “pay or consent” system that Meta imposed on Facebook and Instagram, in order for users to not be targeted by advertising.

Consumer groups say this violates EU rules and acts “as a smokescreen” to divert the attention of consumers from the illegal processing of data.

The consumer bodies said Meta is not complying with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules on fair processing, data minimisation and purpose limitation, with no legal basis to the company’s data collection and processing.
“Surveillance-based business models pose all kinds of problems under the GDPR and it’s time for data protection authorities to stop Meta’s unfair data processing and its infringing of people’s fundamental rights,” Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of the European Consumer Organisation, said in a statement.
She also criticised Meta’s recent launch of paid, advertisement-free subscriptions to Facebook and Instagram in Europe, which the company said aims to comply with new EU tech rules.
Critics say this amounts to users having to pay for their privacy. Users who do not mind advertisements can continue to use the services free of charge.
“Meta’s offer to consumers is smoke and mirrors to cover up what is, at its core, the same old hoovering up of all kinds of sensitive information about people’s lives, which it then monetises through its invasive advertising model,” Pachl said.

According to reuters, Meta said its subscription changes are a response to regulatory actions and court rulings.
“Subscription for no ads addresses the latest regulatory developments, guidance and judgments shared by leading European regulators and the courts over recent years,” a Meta spokesperson said.
“Specifically, it conforms to direction given by the highest court in Europe: in July, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) endorsed the subscriptions model as a way for people to consent to data processing for personalised advertising.”

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  1. There are many things wrong with Meta and I don’t use it for those reasons but I don’t think this is one of them.

    Nothing in life is free. It costs Meta to provide its users with the service. Meta is a business not a charity. It needs to get revenue to meet its costs. It can either raise revenue by selling advertising or by charging a fee directly to users. People have a choice. Pay for the service that you want to consume directly with a fee or pay by accepting advertising.

    A lot depends on how Meta actually works. If Meta collects data on you based on your usage of Meta then I don’t think that breaks any privacy law provided it stores that data securely. If it analyses how you use Meta and on that basis decides which advertisements to feed you then I don’t think that breaks any privacy law. If it sold your data to a third party so that they could advertise to you directly then that would breach privacy law. If it allowed itself to be hacked and your data stolen then that would breach privacy law.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      on the other hand, Meta & the other platforms can exist only because their users provide content free of charge.