Meta hopes to dodge EU privacy law by asking users to pay for an ad-free experience
Meta is considering asking Facebook and Instagram users to pay a monthly subscription charge to opt out of having their data mined for personalized ads, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Meta is reportedly pitching the idea as a workaround to the EU’s increasingly tight privacy laws.
Under the proposed plan, Meta would charge desktop users €10 ($10.50) per month to use either Facebook or Instagram on a desktop computer, and €6 for each additional linked account. Mobile users would pay €13 to access either app on a smartphone, rising to €19 for both, the newspaper reported.
Mobile subscriptions would cost more to factor in commission on in-app payments charged by Apple and Google’s app stores. Those who opt not to pay would still be able to use both apps, but would be presented with personalized ads based on their browsing activity.
This tracking of user activity is at the heart of Meta’s increasingly contentious relationship with EU regulators. Facebook alone is said to collect around 52,000 data points on every user. Users are opted-in to this collection by default unless they complete a lengthy consent form hidden in the app’s help section. This opt-out form has only been available since April, and was introduced to comply with a December ruling by a board of EU privacy regulators.
Since then, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Meta must first seek explicit consent before collecting this data, and has given the platform until the end of November to comply. The EU’s Digital Markets Act, which comes into force next year, also requires the company to seek user consent, and orders the company to allow users to access the service even if they do not provide consent.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Meta pitched its subscription model to Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) last month as a potential workaround to this legislation. As Meta’s European headquarters are located in Ireland, enforcing the law will be the DPC’s responsibility.
Meta reportedly told the DPC that it plans on rolling out the model – which it calls SNA, or Subscription No Ads – in the coming months. Neither the DPC nor regulators in Brussels commented on the proposal when asked by the Wall Street Journal.
A Meta spokesman said that the company believes in “free services which are supported by personalized ads” but is exploring “options to ensure we comply with evolving regulatory requirements.”
October 04, 2023 at 07:23PM