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Norwegian Regulator Slaps Meta with Daily Fines Over Targeted Ads

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OSLO, Norway – Norway’s premier data protection agency, Datatilsynet, has taken a bold stand against Meta Platforms, Inc. (previously known as Facebook, Inc.), issuing daily fines of nearly $100,000 for violating a recent ban on using personal data for targeted advertisements on its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

The announced penalty will require Meta to shell out one million kroner (approximately $97,000) every day, a mandate that kicked off on August 14, 2023.

The action follows a decision by the agency on July 14, 2023, which temporarily prohibited targeted or behavioral advertising on both platforms.

“Meta’s practices revolve around pervasive surveillance of its user base. This poses a significant threat to data protection rights and the essential freedom of information, especially for vulnerable demographics,” Tobias Judin, who leads Datatilsynet’s international division, commented in an email to AFP. He further emphasized concerns regarding “young individuals, senior citizens, and those with cognitive impairments.”

The regulator voiced additional concern over the potential misuse of sensitive personal data for advertising. “Meta’s actions clearly run afoul of data protection legislation,” Judin elaborated.

Datatilsynet had initially presented its directive on July 17, 2023, granting Meta a grace period till August 4, 2023, to make the necessary changes.

But as Judin pointed out, the imposition of the fine came into effect since “Meta has yet to adhere to our prohibition.”

In a recent development, Meta revealed its plan to seek consent from its users within the European Union, European Economic Area, and Switzerland before rolling out targeted advertisements.

This move can be traced back to European regulators, who refuted Meta’s “legitimate interest” rationale for collecting user data for advertisements earlier this year.

Judin acknowledged this step as a “welcome shift,” but remarked on the ongoing unlawful data processing during this transitional phase.

Responding to the situation, a spokesperson for Meta informed AFP about their decision to challenge the Norwegian agency’s resolution, insisting that the company had already demonstrated its commitment to the requested consent measures.

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