EU criticizes Meta's 'privacy for cash' business model

The company is under investigation for the practice.

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The European Union doesn't think you should have to choose between giving Meta and other major players your data or your money. In a statement, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) stated that "consent or pay" models often don't "comply with the requirements for valid consent" when a person must choose between providing their data for behavioral advertising purposes or pay for privacy.

The EDPB argues that only offering a paid alternative to data collection shouldn't be the default for large online platforms. It doesn't issue a mandate but stresses that these platforms should "give significant consideration" to providing a free option that doesn't involve data processing (or at least not as much). "Controllers should take care at all times to avoid transforming the fundamental right to data protection into a feature that individuals have to pay to enjoy," EDPB Chair Anu Talus said. "Individuals should be made fully aware of the value and the consequences of their choices."

Currently, EU users must pay €10 ($11) monthly for an ad-free subscription or be forced to share their data. The EU is already investigating if this system complies with the Digital Markets Act, which went into effect at the beginning of March.