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Meta Proposes Lowering EU Ad-Free Subscription Cost Amid Privacy Review

In a bid to address privacy concerns and comply with EU regulations, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has proposed reducing the price of its ad-free subscription in the European Union. Currently, this subscription is the only option for regional users to avoid tracking and profiling on Meta’s social networks.

According to reports, Meta’s lawyer, Tim Lamb, disclosed this proposal during discussions with privacy regulators, suggesting a reduction in the monthly subscription fee from €9.99 to €5.99 for a single account, with a slightly lower fee for additional accounts. While Meta has confirmed the accuracy of these reports, the final decision awaits feedback from the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), the lead regulator for Meta’s GDPR compliance in the EU.

This move comes amidst ongoing scrutiny over Meta’s data processing practices and its controversial “consent or pay” approach. Critics argue that Meta’s current pricing strategy, which essentially forces users to choose between paying for privacy or accepting tracking, violates GDPR principles that require consent to be freely given.

The regulatory landscape further complicates Meta’s compliance efforts, with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) imposing additional constraints on data usage for ads by designated gatekeepers like Meta. The DMA mandates explicit consent for ad-related data processing, while the DSA underscores compliance with GDPR principles.

Meta’s attempt to address privacy concerns through pricing adjustments is met with skepticism from privacy advocates like Max Schrems, founder of noyb. Schrems emphasizes that even a reduced fee could still coerce users into accepting tracking, undermining the notion of freely given consent mandated by the GDPR.

As the debate over Meta’s data practices continues, the company faces mounting pressure to find a solution that aligns with regulatory requirements while respecting user privacy rights. The outcome of Meta’s pricing proposal and its implications for GDPR compliance remain subject to ongoing regulatory review and public scrutiny. Stay tuned for further developments in this evolving privacy saga.

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