Meta Forced All Users to Either Pay or Give Up Their Data. The EU Says This Illegal Under the Digital Markets Act

If Meta doesn’t change the European Union’s position, it could face a fine of up to 10% of its global revenues.

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The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) has a new target. While the European Commission recently revealed it was investigating Apple for not fully allowing developers to steer consumers to third-party app stores, it has now shifted its attention to Meta. According to the EU law, Meta could be facing substantial penalties for recent actions.

EU says that Meta's “Pay or Consent” model is illegal. On Monday, Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market, stated that Meta violated the DMA, as reported in the Commission’s preliminary conclusion after it opened proceedings in March 2024.

Specifically, Meta’s “Pay or Consent” model, introduced at the end of 2023, is reportedly in breach of the DMA. This model presents users with a binary choice: Either consent to give up your data or pay around €10 (about $10.73) per month.

“Gatekeepers” need to offer alternative options. The DMA directly impacts “gatekeepers,” which it classifies as large digital companies with significant market influence. That clearly sounds like Meta. 

“If a user refuses such consent, they should have access to a less personalized but equivalent alternative,” the latest European Commission’s press release reads. As things stand, Meta doesn’t allow users to access a version of Facebook or Instagram with fewer cookies unless they agree to pay for it.

The fine is expected to be announced before March 2025. The Commission’s preliminary conclusion finds that Meta has violated the DMA. Meta now has the right to defend itself and present its arguments to try to change the opinion of European regulators.

If the European Commission’s preliminary conclusions–which the European Data Protection Center agrees with–are upheld, Meta may face a fine in the billions.

The deadline for announcing a decision is March 2025, which is 12 months after the investigation began in March 2024.

A fine of up to $13.490 billion. The fines set by the DMA can be as high as 10% of global annual revenues or 20% in case of repeated violations. Based on its latest financial results, Meta’s revenue in 2023 was $134.90 billion.

This implies that the European Commission’s penalty could reach $13.490 billion. However, it’s worth noting that penalties are typically lower than the maximum percentage.

Related | The European Commission Opens Another Investigation into Apple. The Goal: To See if iOS Is Complying With New Laws

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