EU claims that Meta’s advertising model breaches the Digital Markets Act 

The European Commission has criticised Meta’s approach to advertising on Facebook, arguing that its “pay or consent” model violates EU laws. 

According to the new service, users in the EU must either agree to receive personalised ads or pay €12.99 monthly to opt-out. The Commission has informed Meta that it believes this binary choice fails to meet the requirements of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). 

Under the DMA, the EU insists that users who decline personalised ads should still receive an equivalent service that uses less personal data. 

This development follows recent scrutiny of Apple for similar violations, marking the first time the EU has accused a company of breaching DMA regulations.

Meta, classified as a “gatekeeper” alongside other major tech firms under EU regulations aimed at ensuring fair competition in digital markets, now faces more obligations. 

European data protection authorities have expressed concerns since Meta introduced its “pay or consent” model in 2023. The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) issued an opinion in April suggesting that platforms charging for ad-free access should consider additional alternatives.

In an attempt to address regulatory concerns, Meta reduced its base subscription fee from €9.99 to €5.99 in March. Despite these adjustments, the Commission asserts that Meta’s current model still fails to offer genuine choice to users.

When commenting on the investigation, Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s executive vice president and competition policy chief said: “We want to empower citizens to be able to take control over their own data and choose a less personalised ads experience”, adding “gatekeepers like Meta have been accumulating personal data of millions of EU citizens over many years”.

Meta has also insisted that its advertising model is compliant. In a recent statement, a spokesperson for the company said: “Subscription for no ads follows the direction of the highest court in Europe and complies with the DMA.”

The EU is aiming to finish its investigation in the next year. If they find that Meta isn’t meeting its obligations, the company could be fined up to 10% of its global revenue. 

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