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NOYB contests Meta's premium subscription offering, claiming a violation related to a 'privacy fee’

Digital rights group NOYB has lodged a formal complaint against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, asserting that Meta's recently launched paid subscription service violates EU data protection laws. This service, introduced earlier this month, offers users in Europe an ad-free experience for a monthly fee of 9.99 euros (web users) or 12.99 euros (iOS and Android users). NOYB, founded by privacy activist Max Schrems, challenges Meta's interpretation of consent, arguing that EU law requires genuine free will. They accuse Meta of imposing a 'privacy fee' of up to 250 euros per year, penalizing users for exercising their data protection rights.

Felix Mikolasch, NOYB's data protection lawyer, deems the cost and strategy unacceptable, expressing concern that if Meta's approach is accepted, other companies might adopt similar practices. Meta defends its subscription model, claiming alignment with European regulators' requirements, offering users a choice while allowing the company to serve all EU, EEA, and Switzerland users. Meta contends that its subscription pricing is comparable to services like Netflix, YouTube Premium, and Spotify.

In response to the complaint, NOYB urges the Austrian privacy authority to expedite proceedings to halt Meta's practices and impose fines. The complaint is expected to be forwarded to the Irish data protection watchdog, given Meta's European headquarters location. Additionally, Meta's ad-free subscription option imposes unexpected restrictions, disabling not only ads but also the ability to run ads, boost posts, or participate in partnership ads on Instagram or Facebook.

Source: adapted from an article by Gizem Yilmaz, Author of Archives for Mobile Marketing Reads.

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