Meta fined $400m+ for forcing users to consent to behavioral advertising

Ireland’s privacy watchdog fined Meta over $400m for breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR.)

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has issued yet another two fines - Meta Ireland will have to pay €210 million ($222 million) for Facebook breaches of the GDPR and €180 million ($190 million) for violations concerning Instagram service.

Ireland opened an investigation into “same basic issues” after two complaints about Facebook and Instagram by relevant Austrian and Belgian authorities.

The complaints were filed on May 25, 2018, when the GDPR came into effect. DPC said that in advance of May 25, 2018, Meta Ireland had changed the Terms of Service for its Facebook and Instagram services.

Meta is said to have used its Terms of Service to gain users’ forced consent for targeted advertising.

“If they wished to continue to have access to the Facebook and Instagram services following the introduction of the GDPR, existing (and new) users were asked to click “I accept” to indicate their acceptance of the updated Terms of Service. (The services would not be accessible if users declined to do so),” DPC explained.

It said Meta was forcing users to consent to processing their personal data for behavioral advertising and other personalized services, breaching the GDPR.

Meta said it was going to appeal the fines and assured users and businesses that they can continue to benefit from personalized advertising across the EU through Meta’s platforms.

“It’s important to note that these decisions do not prevent personalized advertising on our platform. The decisions relate only to which legal basis Meta uses when offering certain advertising. Advertisers can continue to use our platforms to reach potential customers, grow their business and create new markets,” the company said.

The Irish regulator's decision comes merely a month after another hefty fine. Last November, it was fined €265m ($277m) over a leak that exposed hundreds of millions of user records.

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