EU data regulator bans personalised advertising on Facebook and Instagram

Meta could face fines of up to 4% of its global turnover for non-compliance.

A person's hand holding Meta's infinite sign.

The European data regulator has agreed to expand Norway’s ban on ‘behavioural advertising’ on Facebook and Instagram to cover all 30 countries in the European Union and the European Economic Area. (EEA) This ban poses a challenge to Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook), as it involves targeting users by collecting and utilizing their personal data for advertising purposes. Meta Platforms has consistently opposed efforts to limit this practice.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has instructed the Irish data regulator, where Meta’s European headquarters are located, to impose a permanent ban on Meta’s use of behavioural advertising within two weeks. The EDPB states that its decision is an urgent binding instruction to enforce the ban across the EEA.

In response, Meta has stated that it had already announced plans to provide users in the EU and EEA with an opportunity to provide consent and will introduce a subscription model in November to comply with regulatory requirements. The company claims to have engaged with the EDPB throughout the process to find a satisfactory outcome.

Why does it matter?

The ban on behavioural advertising will impact approximately 250 million Facebook and Instagram users in Europe, as indicated by the Norwegian data regulator. Since August 7, Meta Platforms has been subjected to daily fines in Norway for breaching users’ privacy by utilizing their data, including locations and browsing behavior, for advertising purposes. The potential fines faced by Meta, the instructions from the EDPB, and Meta’s stated plans to comply with regulations all contribute to the ongoing discussion surrounding the use of personal data in advertising.