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The EU’s digital rights advocates are raising concerns over Meta’s “privacy fee”

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has recently rolled out a paid subscription service for users in the European Union. This new service, priced at €9.99 ($10.90) per month for web users and €12.99 ($14.20) for iOS and Android users, aims to provide an ad-free experience while also complying with EU regulations on user data and privacy.

However, the new subscription model has faced criticism from digital rights group NOYB (None Of Your Business), led by privacy activist Max Schrems. NOYB has filed a complaint with an Austrian regulator, arguing that Meta’s subscription essentially charges users for privacy protection, conflicting with the concept of user consent mandated by EU law.

Felix Mikolasch, a data protection lawyer at NOYB, stated, “EU law requires that consent is the genuine free will of the user. Contrary to this law, Meta charges a ‘privacy fee’ of up to 250 euros per year if anyone dares to exercise their fundamental right to data protection.” NOYB also criticized the fee’s acceptability, claiming that only 3% of people desire tracking, while more than 99% do not opt for the “privacy fee.” The group warned of potential repercussions, suggesting that if Meta’s approach is allowed, competitors may follow suit, leading to high costs for users to maintain privacy.

In response, Meta defended its subscription model, emphasizing that it aligns with European regulatory requirements while also providing users with a choice. A spokesperson for Meta noted that the pricing structure is consistent with similar subscription offerings in Europe, highlighting the balance between regulatory compliance and user preference.

NOYB, known for filing privacy violation complaints against major tech companies, has urged the Austrian privacy authority to take action against Meta and impose fines. The complaint is expected to be forwarded to the Irish data protection watchdog, as Meta’s European headquarters are based in Ireland.

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