EU rejects Meta’s new paid subscription model due to privacy concerns 

The European Data Protection Board has expressed its opposition to Meta’s controversial new “pay or okay” business model in an opinion that was published earlier this week. According to the Board, this binary approach does not align with the EU’s data privacy regulations.

Introduced by Meta in November 2023, the “pay or okay” model presents users with a choice: they can use the services for free if they consent to Meta processing their private data, or they can opt for a paid subscription model where Meta agrees not to process their data. 

However, the Board argues that such a binary choice does not meet the requirements of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the EU’s data privacy law. The GDPR data legislation applies to all large tech firms and helps to protect consumers’ data online. 

This move by Meta comes in response to earlier regulatory challenges. In January 2023, two national data authorities deemed Meta’s “contract model” in violation of the GDPR. This model involves users entering into a contract with the platform by accepting the Terms of Service, therefore questioning the legal basis for Meta’s data processing.

In its opinion, issued during its latest plenary, the EDPB pointed out how important the GDPR rules are for holding social media platforms accountable. It also recommended that online platforms offer alternatives to paid services that involve behavioural advertising, focusing on providing genuinely equivalent free options.

The opinion added: The offering of (only) a paid alternative to the service which includes processing for behavioural advertising purposes should not be the default way forward for controllers.”

Meta also commented: “Last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the subscription model is a legally valid way for companies to seek people’s consent for personalised advertising. EDPB Opinion does not alter that judgment.”

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