Meta Platforms breached European data privacy rules in Norway, Norway’s data watchdog told a court on Wednesday, in a case that could have wider ramifications across Europe.

Meta has been fined 1 million crowns (roughly Rs. 80 crore) per day since August 14 for violating users’ privacy by collecting user data and using it to serve targeted ads to them.

So-called behavioral advertising is a common business model for big tech companies.

The owners of Facebook and Instagram are seeking a temporary injunction against the order, which will impose daily fines for the next three months.

Hanne Inger Bjurstroem Jahren, a lawyer representing regulator Datatilsynet, said the fine was valid because Meta did not comply with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“There was no discussion of whether the company violated these rules … Today Meta violated the GDPR rules,” she told the court on the final day of the two-day hearing.

Meta told the court on Tuesday that it had undertaken to seek consent from users and that Datatilsynet had used an “expedited process” which was unnecessary and did not give the company enough time to respond.

The regulator said it was unclear when and how Meta sought users’ consent, while users’ rights were violated.

Datatilsynet can make the fine permanent by submitting its decision to the European Data Protection Board, which has the power to do so if it agrees with the Norwegian regulator’s decision.

It could also extend the territorial scope of the decision to other parts of Europe. Datatilsynet hasn’t taken that step yet.

Norway is not a member of the European Union, but is part of the European single market.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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