Wednesday, June 19, 2024

BEUC Claims Meta Involved in Unlawful Data Processing

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BEUC Claims Meta Involved in Unlawful Data Processing

European consumer rights organizations have leveled accusations against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, alleging a vast and illicit operation involving the collection of data from millions of users across the region.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), representing a coalition of 45 consumer groups, disclosed that eight of its members were lodging complaints with their respective national data protection authorities on Thursday.

The core contention of these groups revolves around Meta’s purported accumulation of excessive user data, encompassing details used to deduce aspects like sexual orientation, emotional disposition, and susceptibility to addiction. Critically, users are purportedly unable to provide meaningful consent for this level of data collection.

This collective action asserts that Meta’s data-handling practices run afoul of certain provisions within the European Union’s landmark legislation on data privacy, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In a strongly worded statement, BEUC accused Meta of perpetuating a system reliant on surveillance-driven advertising, which tracks individuals online and amasses extensive personal data to fuel targeted advertising campaigns.

Meta, however, vehemently contests these allegations.

“We take our regulatory obligations extremely seriously, and are confident that our approach complies with the GDPR,” asserted a spokesperson for the company in a formal response.

The spokesperson elaborated further, highlighting Meta’s concerted efforts since 2019 to overhaul its privacy protocols, emphasizing the company’s collaboration with regulators, policymakers, and experts to ensure adherence to best practices and stringent data protection standards.

 

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The filing of complaints on Thursday potentially opens up a new legal frontier for Meta, which has long been under the regulatory microscope in Europe.

Notably, in May of the previous year, EU regulators imposed a landmark fine of €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) on the tech behemoth for GDPR violations related to the transfer of Facebook users’ personal data to servers located in the United States.

This fine, according to the European Data Protection Board, remains the largest ever issued under the GDPR since its enactment in 2018, underscoring the gravity of the transgressions attributed to Meta.

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