Meta faced with €390 million fine for breaching EU privacy rules
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, as well as owner of Instagram and WhatsApp, is the largest social media company in the world. With such power, comes great responsibility. However, Meta is failing to be responsible regarding compliance of their data and privacy policies with GDPR rules. From data breaches to forced consent, Meta has faced many investigations since the establishment of the GDPR in 2018.
Most recently, Meta has been fined €390 million for breaching EU privacy rules. This is the result of two investigations which began in 2018, one regarding Facebook and the other Instagram. Both investigations were prompted by Meta’s terms and conditions for the use of both Facebook and Instagram. Essentially, the complainants claimed that Meta was forcing users to accept and consent to the processing of their data, as users would otherwise be unable to use its services. It was argued that this ‘forced’ consent breached GDPR.
The result was a €210 million and €180 million fine for both Facebook and Instagram respectively, due to a lack of transparency and contravention of Article 6 of the GDPR which states that processing is lawful if the data subject consented to the processing of their data and if the processing is necessary under certain grounds. As well as that, Meta was given a three-month period to ensure its data processing operations were compliant with EU GDPR laws. Unsurprisingly, Meta plans to appeal the decision and argue that their approach to consent respects GDPR.
This is not the first fine imposed on Meta by the Irish Data Protection Commission. In November 2022, Meta was fined €265 million for a data breach in which 533 million users’ names, phone numbers and email addresses were published online, of which 1.3 million were from Ireland. The continuous fines that Meta is facing from the Irish Data Protection Commission, which have now accumulated to over €1 billion, will likely prompt users to reflect about the data and ‘consent’ they provide on social media platforms.