Austria digital rights company launches complaint against Meta’s paid service

Vienna-based NOYB has urged the Austrian Data Protection Authority to take action and impose fines, as well as calling for an expedited process to halt Meta’s practices.

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Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, has been targeted in a privacy complaint in Austria over its new paid ad-free service. The complaint was filed by digital rights group NOYB (None Of Your Business), founded by privacy activist Max Schrems. The group alleges that Meta’s service effectively charges users for privacy, which they argue goes against EU GDPR consent laws.

Meta launched the ad-free service in Europe as a means to comply with EU regulations that require users to have the choice to opt out of data collection for targeted advertising. The service costs €9.99 monthly for web users and €12.99 for iOS and Android users.

Why does it matter?

NOYB challenges Meta’s interpretation of consent, arguing that EU law mandates that users must freely give consent. They contend that Meta’s subscription model imposes a ‘privacy fee’ of up to 250 euros per year for those who wish to exercise their data protection rights. The group also criticises the pricing of the service, highlighting that industry figures suggest only 3 percent of people are willing to be tracked. In comparison, over 99 percent do not exercise their choice due to the imposed ‘privacy fee’.

In response, Meta has stated that the option for people to purchase a subscription for no ads balances the requirements of European regulators while giving users a choice and allowing Meta to continue serving all people in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland.