Norway to hit Meta with fines over Facebook user privacy from next week

Book to hit face, but Zuckerberg & co tell El Reg it will challenge the ban

Norway's data protection authorities are to proceed with fines against Meta over privacy violations against its citizens, to the tune of 1 million Norwegian kroner (about $98,500) per day from August 14.

The Norwegian data protection authority Datatilsynet warned last month that it was imposing a temporary ban on Meta's tracking and profiling of users in the country, the purpose of which is, of course, targeted advertising, and said the company risked being fined if it did not comply with the decision.

It appears that Meta had not complied by August 4, the date from which the temporary ban was to take effect, and so the fines will now be imposed.

However, as The Register has previously pointed out, even if the fine is imposed for the entire three month period of the temporary ban, it will add up to a fraction of 1 percent of Meta's Q1 2023 profits, and so is unlikely to cause the social media giant much anguish.

Norway's Datatilsynet announced on July 17 that it considered the behavioral advertising practices of Meta to be illegal, and it was therefore imposing a temporary country-wide ban on this across Facebook and Instagram.

Its decision was based on an earlier action by Ireland's Data Protection Commission on behalf of all data protection authorities across the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes all European Union (EU) member states plus others that have opted into the single market, such as Norway. This established that Meta had conducted illegal behavioral advertising.

Meta made some changes following that decision, but a further ruling [PDF] from the Court of Justice of the European Union early in July stated that Meta's behavioral advertising still did not comply with the law, leading to Norway's temporary ban.

Just last week, Meta said it was changing tack and would seek explicit consent from EU users before using their data to serve up targeted advertising.

The change will only apply to users in the EU and EEA countries, plus Switzerland. But as The Register wrote at the time, it is not clear when this change will take effect, or what the protections for users will be.

According to an update published today by Datatilsynet, Meta has said that it will look at how it can align itself legally in the future, "but as we see it, has still not stopped the illegal activity."

The data protection authority also said Meta had petitioned the Oslo District Court for a temporary injunction, asking the court to stop the implementation of the ban. If Meta's bid for an injunction is successful, it would not have to comply with the behavioral advertising ban pending a full trial.

A Meta spokesperson confirmed to us the company is challenging the ban, which it believes disregards due process. Meta has already committed to what Datatilsynet is asking for (consent), but it cannot simply flick a switch to comply, the company said.

The temporary injunction issue will probably be decided during August, according to Datatilsynet, which said it will post an update as soon as the court date is decided. ®

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