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Privacy, goodbye to advertising tracking on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp

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Privacy, goodbye to advertising tracking on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp

We will say goodbye to advertising tracking on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp. This is the will of the privacy regulators of the European Union. They ruled on Monday that parent company Meta shouldn’t require users to accept personalized ads based on their online activity.
It’s a decision notably made by the EDPB — a committee representing all EU privacy regulators — the Wall Street Journal reported in advance, as it’s not yet in the public domain. Specifically, EDPB has asked the Irish Data Protection Commission to issue orders and sanctions in accordance with the decision of this committee. Ireland is Meta’s primary privacy regulator in Europe, as that is where the company has its European headquarters. EU decisions can be challenged by Meta and therefore would be suspended until the end of a probably lengthy dispute. If confirmed, however, they would be an earthquake. Meta and, in perspective, other platforms would have major obstacles in showing personalized advertising to users, i.e. ads based on their activities and interests.
Currently, users on Meta platforms can only choose not to personalize ads with data from third-party websites and apps. Similarly, Apple iPhone users are asked whether to accept that an app can track us through other apps or sites; a novelty that has already weighed on Meta’s revenues.
The Edpb order would generalize this right. This would result in a further important weakening of Meta’s advertising capacity. Many experts who are commenting in these hours are convinced of this, such as analyst Debra Aho Williamson of Insider Intelligence: “The decision of the EU regulators, if confirmed, would have a dramatic impact on Meta’s revenues in Europe, putting knee its ability to use information about user activity on the platform to sell targeted advertising. Europe is already now the region in which Meta had suffered the greatest losses in users and turnover”.
And it is likely that many users would take advantage of this new right offered to them by regulators.
Proof of this is that a large part of them, on the iPhone, have refused tracking and the consequence would be an 8 percent drop in revenues in 2021, according to estimates by Meta.
“However, we expect Meta to fight vigorously to defend its business and it could be months, if not years, before the impact is really felt,” adds Williamson.
“This is not the final decision and it’s too early to speculate,” a Meta spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal, adding that European law may allow for other legal possibilities for ad targeting.
Any decision by the Irish Data Protection Commission will probably not specify how Meta will have to comply. However, if the ruling is upheld, Meta could be forced to ask users’ consent for targeted ads or offer them an opt-out.
This decision fits into a very strong trend in Europe and of growing importance also in the United States: to protect user privacy against targeted or “behavioral” advertising (based on user activity).
A new privacy law in California allows users to limit it.
Amazon was fined about $786 million in Luxembourg last year for violations related to its advertising, a decision it is appealing.
Ireland, for its part, has fined Meta more than $900 million in four other cases in the past 15 months and currently has 10 other investigations into the company underway. Meta is still challenging two of these decisions and is considering an appeal for the most recent one. As of 31 December 2021, the firm’s Irish branch had allocated nearly €3 billion, or around $3.15 billion, to privacy fines in the EU, an increase of €1.97 billion on the previous year. ‘last year

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