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Meta’s ‘pay or consent’ ad model breaches law, says EU

Meta faces tougher obligations as one of several big tech firms designated “gatekeepers” under the bloc’s rules designed to maintain a level-playing field and competitiveness for digital platforms.

When it adopted its “pay or consent” model in 2023, it raised concerns from a number of European data watchdogs.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) adopted an opinion, external in April which said platforms charging a fee for accessing an equivalent version of their services without personalised ads “should give significant consideration to offering an additional alternative”.

Meta offered to lower its base subscription fee from €9.99 to €5.99 to try and ease regulators’ concerns in March.

But the Commission says Meta’s model does not amount to a real choice for users.

“We want to empower citizens to be able to take control over their own data and choose a less personalised ads experience,” said Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s executive vice-president and competition policy chief.

She added that the Commission’s investigation – launched at the end of March seeks to ensure that rivals are able to compete in the digital advertising market “where gatekeepers like Meta have been accumulating personal data of millions of EU citizens over many years”.

It aims to conclude its investigation within the next 12 months.

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