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This Privacy Ruling Against Facebook and Insta Could End Targeted Ads

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EU privacy regulators declared that Meta can’t force users to agree to data collection.
Privacy regulators in the European Union have ruled that Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, can’t make giving up data for targeted ads a condition of joining the social networks, according to reports published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. The decision threatens to upend the social media giant’s business model and alter the financial underpinnings of the internet.
Signing up for Facebook or Instagram means clicking past a privacy policy and consenting to the social networks’ digital surveillance for advertising purposes. If you don’t agree, you can’t have an account. But a board of Europe’s privacy regulators issued a series of new decisions Monday declaring that this kind of coerced consent violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s sweeping privacy law.
While the ruling hasn’t been made public, key details leaked to the press Tuesday. The decision wouldn’t just affect Meta. Every company that serves targeted ads works in much the same way as the social media giant. You can sometimes opt out of having data from other parts of the internet used for advertising on social media, but the new ruling seeks to limit company’s from using the data they collect on their own networks. It would be a sea change to how privacy works online.
“The EU regulators’ decision, if it is upheld, would have a dramatic impact on Meta’s revenue in Europe, kneecapping its ability to use information about its users’ on-platform activities in order to sell targeted advertising,” said Debra Aho Williamson, a principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, in an email.

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