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European Consumer Groups Accuse Meta of Illegal Data Collection Operation

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European Consumer Groups Accuse Meta of Illegal Data Collection Operation

European consumer rights groups accuse Meta of “illegal” data collection practices

European consumer rights groups have accused Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, of carrying out a “massive” and “illegal” data collection operation on hundreds of millions of users in the region.

The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) has stated that eight of the groups are filing complaints with their respective national data protection authorities. They claim that Meta collects unnecessary amounts of information about its users, including data on their sexual orientation, emotional state, and susceptibility to addiction, without their free consent.

These practices are said to violate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union’s data privacy law. BEUC has stated that Meta’s actions fuel a surveillance-based advertising system that tracks online activity and collects personal data for ad targeting.

EU regulators have fined Meta in the past for violations of GDPR rules, and more legal action may be on the horizon as a result of these latest complaints. In response to previous violations, Meta was required to request explicit consent from users for targeted advertising and launch a subscription service for ad-free versions of its platforms.

However, BEUC argues that this subscription service presents an unfair and misleading choice for users, as the data processing is not transparent. They claim that Meta’s market dominance makes it difficult for users to abandon the platforms without isolating themselves from family and friends.

The organization has filed complaints with European consumer protection authorities, calling Meta’s approach a violation of EU law prohibiting unfair and aggressive business practices. Ursula Pachl, assistant principal of BEUC, has criticized Meta’s offering as smoke and mirrors to cover up its invasive data collection practices.

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Meta has not yet responded to these latest allegations.

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