The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has announced that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, must pay a fine for the way it handles user data. The commission had previously fined Meta hundreds of millions of dollars in a similar manner and put parts of the company’s advertising business at risk.
According to VergeIn a statement, the DPC has ordered Meta to pay 210 million euros (about $222 million) for violating EU privacy laws with Facebook’s policies and 180 million euros (about $191 million) for violating the rules through Instagram.
Meta’s hefty fine is the result of two lawsuits filed in 2018 centered around Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This law entered into operation in the same year.
As a result of the complaints in question, Facebook and Instagram implemented changes in their service rules, parts of which included how to process user data. However, the plaintiffs in the Meta cases say that Facebook and Instagram have “forced” their users to accept things like targeted advertising, and that this is a clear example of violating European privacy laws.
The Irish Data Protection Commission, an enforcement arm of the European Union, says the updates Meta made to Facebook and Instagram’s rules of service lacked transparency. After hearings with the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), the commission concluded that Meta could not rely on the contract it imposed on its users to defend its business policies. The guidelines issued by the European Data Protection Board eventually led the regulatory bodies to increase the fines they were considering for Meta.
In addition to paying a heavy fine, the European Union says that Meta must amend its business policies in accordance with the GDPR within three months. The Wall Street Journal said in an analytical report some time ago that the new European rules may severely affect meta-targeted advertising.
In a statement, Meta said the EU’s tough policies “do not prevent” the display of targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, citing an appeal of the hefty fine.
This is not the first time Meta has been fined. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said late last year that Meta would have to pay $276 million in fines in 2021 for leaking user data. A few months before that, a fine of 402 million dollars was considered for Meta.