EU Questions Meta’s ‘Pay Or Be Tracked’ Consent Model Under DSA


The European Union is pressing Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, for more information about its “Subscription for no Ads options” for users in the region. The European Commission has issued a formal request for information (RFI) under the Digital Services Act (DSA), seeking clarification on Meta’s measures to comply with its obligations concerning advertising practices, recommender systems, and risk assessments related to the introduction of the ad-free subscription option.

Key Takeaway

The European Union has issued a formal request for information to Meta under the Digital Services Act, seeking clarification on the company’s ad-free subscription model and its compliance with data protection laws. The controversial “consent or pay” approach has sparked concerns about privacy and consumer rights, prompting regulatory scrutiny.

EU’s Concerns

The EU is particularly interested in understanding how Meta’s ad-free subscription, which requires users to either pay monthly fees or agree to being tracked for targeted advertising, aligns with the bloc’s data protection laws. The controversial “consent or pay” model has raised privacy and consumer rights concerns, leading to a series of complaints filed under EU data and consumer protection law.

Regulatory Framework

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is a significant factor in this inquiry, as it imposes algorithmic accountability and transparency rules on larger online platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. The regulation mandates that larger platforms must obtain valid consent for using data for advertising, comply with data protection rules, and make it as easy to withdraw consent as it is to provide it. Additionally, the DSA prohibits the use of sensitive data or minors’ data for ads.

Commission’s Action

The European Commission’s formal request for information (RFI) is part of its enforcement role under the DSA. The Commission has the authority to issue penalties for violations of the DSA, with fines potentially reaching up to 6% of a company’s global annual turnover. Meta has until March 22 to provide the requested information to the EU.

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