Meta to Offer Free Choice of Denying Behavioral Advertising in EU

In response to ongoing actions over the legal basis for its microtargeted ads in Europe, Meta has announced to switch to a consent-based legal basis for targeted advertising in the European Union. The tech giant is facing scrutiny from privacy regulators over its data processing practices and is now committed to giving users in the EU a free choice to deny behavioral advertising.

Concerns Raised by Privacy Regulators regarding Meta

Earlier reports suggested that privacy regulators were pushing Meta to make this change. Meta has reportedly offered to make the switch to consent in the upcoming months, stating it would need at least three months to implement the change fully. There were even suggestions that the company might wait until early next year to align with the Digital Markets Act, another piece of EU digital regulation. However, such a delay is not a legal requirement, and Meta’s compliance will be subject to regulatory scrutiny.

Impact on Meta Users and Advertisers

Once implemented, EU users will have the choice to opt out the behavioral advertising, a change that aligns with EU privacy regulations. However, Meta has clarified that this choice will not be offered to U.S. and U.K. users. The company will provide this option only to users in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland. This discrepancy in user experience raises concerns about unequal treatment of users based on their location.

Privacy Campaigners’ Reaction

Privacy campaigners, who have been advocating for privacy-friendly practices for years, have welcomed the switch to consent-based advertising. Max Schrems, the privacy campaigner who filed the original forced consent GDPR complaint against Meta in 2018, has stated that he will closely supervise how the company implements the choice and ensure it applies to all data processing for ad targeting. He emphasized the need for full compliance with GDPR requirements to protect users’ privacy rights.

Maximilian Schrems an Austrian activist, lawyer, and author

A Significant Change in the Era of Platform Giants like Meta

The move toward consent-based advertising signals a shift in the landscape of platform giants and their previously unnoticed practices. It represents a major win for privacy campaigners who have been fighting for years to compel the company to respect EU users’ fundamental rights. Despite this victory, it is important to note that Meta’s actual privacy abuses have not ceased, and it may take several months before the company fully implements the opt-out choice required by law.

This decision of Meta to switch to consent-based advertising in the EU reflects the growing pressure from privacy regulators and the changing landscape of data protection regulations. While the company’s surveillance behavioral ads business model has faced criticism and legal challenges for years, the GDPR and privacy campaigners have succeeded in pushing the tech giant to comply with EU privacy regulations. The transition to consent-based advertising is a step forward in empowering users and holding platform giants accountable for their data processing practices. However, ongoing surveillance is required to ensure full compliance and protection of users’ privacy rights.

For more news and updates on Cybersecurity, visit The Cybersecurity Club.

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