Meta is under fire for its new attempt to get around European Union privacy rules. It is offering users a choice between paying a monthly subscription for ad-free versions of Facebook and Instagram or giving up their privacy rights for free access to the social networks. A complaint has been filed against this plan by privacy rights group noyb in Austria. The group contends that the cost of the subscription is excessive, especially for users in financial distress. They argue that if other app makers adopt the same approach, the cost of protecting privacy will become unaffordable for EU citizens.

The complaint centers around the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires consent for personal data to be “freely given.” noyb argues that the high financial cost represents a barrier to obtaining their fundamental right to privacy. They also point to research showing that most people do not want their data to be used for personalized ads.

The group is calling for Austria’s data protection authority to stop Meta’s illegal processing and impose a deterrent fine. Meta claims its approach is compliant with EU laws and that its pricing is in line with other ad-free premium subscriptions from streaming services. However, these comparisons are challenged, and the high pricing suggests that Meta is trying to force users to continue letting it track and profile them.

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