Meta has been fined 390 million euros in the European Union for its violation of EU privacy laws due to using its contracts with Instagram and Facebook users as a justification for sending them advertisements.
Meta said that it disagrees with the ruling, which was announced by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission on Wednesday. The ruling was given by Ireland’s privacy regulator.
Meta plans to appeal the ruling as well as the fines, but litigation may take years.
The decisions give the company three months to stop using its contracts with users as a justification for its targeted ads.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is led by Ireland because both Facebook and Instagram have European headquarters in Ireland.
According to privacy campaigners, the ruling is a major victory. It will also mean that Meta may have to change a significant part of how its business works.
The bulk of Meta’s money, which was over $118 billion in 2021, comes from advertising.
Meta was also fined 265 million euros in November, due to a data breach that caused hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ personal data to be published online.
Even though Meta has allowed users to opt out of ads that are based on their activity on other apps and websites, it doesn’t give them the option of opting out of ads that are based on activity on its own platforms.
After Apple required iPhone developers to ask users if they want their usage to be tracked, a lot of iPhone users opted out which caused Meta’s revenue to decline.
Over the past year and a half, Meta has been fined five separate times by the privacy regulator in Ireland, nearly 1.4 billion dollars.
The decision for a third case about Meta’s WhatsApp is also expected later this month.
The European Union’s privacy rules are some of the strictest in the world and have pressured Meta as well as other Big Tech companies. Meta has also recently been accused of distorting competition in classified ads by EU antitrust officials in Brussels.
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