NOYB Files Complaints Against Subscription Services Without Meta Platforms Ads In Europe

Pay-free subscription service from Meta Platforms Inc., launched in Europe this month, faces one of its biggest tests. This comes as the NOYB advocacy group on Tuesday, November 28, filed a complaint with Austrian regulators. They stated that the service was considered payment for ensuring privacy.

Meta announced the service to Facebook and Instagram last month. The company stated that the move was in accordance with EU rules stating that users should be given a choice on whether their data could be collected and used for targeted ads.

This ad-free service costs 9.99 euros (IDR 169.5 thousand) per month for web users and 12.99 euros (IDR 220 thousand) for iOS and Android users. Meta says that the subscription model is a form of valid approval for advertising-funded services and is in accordance with Europe's highest court ruling in July. Users can also choose ad-supported free services.

NOYB (None Of Your Business), a Vienna-based digital rights group founded by privacy activist Max Schrems, said they disagreed with Meta on the concept of approval.

"The European Union law requires that consent is the true free will of the user. Contrary to this law, Meta imposes a 'private fee' of up to 250 euros per year if one dares to exercise its basic rights to data protection," NoYB data protection attorney Felix Mikolasch said in a statement quoted by VOI from Reuters.

NOYB filed a complaint with the Austrian Data Protection Authority and also criticized the amount of the fee.

"Not only is the cost unacceptable, but the industry figures show that only 3 percent of people want to be tracked, while more than 99 percent don't use their choice when faced with 'private costs'," the group said. "If Meta succeeds with this, competitors will soon follow in its footsteps."

Meta states, "Opsi for people to buy subscriptions without ads is in line with European regulatory requirements while giving users a choice and allowing Meta to continue serving everyone in the EU, EAE, and Switzerland."

Meta spokespersons have shown that the price is in line with similar subscription offers in Europe.

Netflix charges 7.99 euros for basic subscription packages, while Alphabet's YouTube Premium costs around 12 euros, and Spotify's Premium service is priced at around 11 euros.

NOYB, which has filed hundreds of complaints against major tech companies from Alphabet Google to Meta over privacy breaches, urged Austrian privacy authorities to launch an accelerated process to stop Meta and also provide fines.

The complaint is likely to be forwarded to Irish data protection supervisors who oversee Meta as the company has a European headquarters in Ireland.