European consumer groups filed complaints against Meta over alleged GDPR violations

Consumer groups from eight European countries accuse Meta’s ad-free subscription model of illegal data collection, violating GDPR.


Consumer groups from eight European countries, part of BEUC’s network, have filed complaints against Meta, accusing the company of illegal user data collection through its ad-free subscription model. The groups argue that Meta’s model violates the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principles and lacks a valid legal basis for collecting Facebook and Instagram user data.

In response to the upcoming Digital Markets Act and the EU competition rules, Meta introduced an ad-free subscription model in October. The model, priced at €9.99/month for web users and €12.99 for app users, allows subscribers to avoid personalized ads, with Meta refraining from processing their information for advertising purposes.

Described as a “consent solution” to meet various the EU regulatory obligations, the model provides consumers in the bloc an alternative way to use Facebook and Instagram, ensuring compliance with evolving and interconnected regulations with different compliance deadlines, according to a blog post by Meta.

Why does it matter?

Meta’s recent subscription model has sparked privacy concerns among European digital rights groups, as users must pay to avoid being ‘tracked.’ The groups argue that this model undermines users’ freedom to give or withdraw consent. Despite pending approval from the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), 28 digital rights groups have called on the EDPB to reject it, contending that the model violates GDPR and raises significant privacy issues.