Norway says Facebook owner faces EU ban on targeted advertising

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By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO, Nov 1 (Reuters) – The European data regulator has agreed to extend a ban on “behavioural advertising” on Facebook and Instagram to cover all 30 countries in the European Union and the European Economic Area, Norway’s data regulator said late on Tuesday.

The ban on such advertising, which targets users by harvesting their data, is a setback for U.S. tech giant Meta Platforms META.O, the owner of the two social media services, which has opposed efforts by Norway’s Datatilsynet to curb the practice.

“We are very pleased that the European Data Protection Board agrees with Datatilsynet’s assessment and extends our ban. The aim is that citizens across Europe will have better privacy,” the head of the Norwegian data regulator, Line Coll, said in a statement.

Meta is already subject to daily fines in Norway of 1 million crowns ($90,000) for breaching users’ privacy by using their data, such as locations or browsing behaviour, for advertising, a business model common to Big Tech.

Datatilsynet in September said it had referred the ongoing fine to the European regulator, as its fine was valid in Norway only and due to expire on Nov. 3. It will now be made permanent.

The EDPB’s decision is an instruction to the data regulator of Ireland, where Meta’s European headquarters are located, to impose a permanent ban on the company’s use of behavioural advertising, Datatilsynet said, without giving a timeline.

The decision affects some 250 million Facebook and Instagram users in Europe, it added.

Meta on Wednesday said it had already said it would give users in the EU and the EEA the opportunity to consent, and would offer, in November, a subscription model to comply with regulatory requirements.

“EDPB members have been aware of this plan for weeks and we were already fully engaged with them to arrive at a satisfactory outcome for all parties,” said a company spokesperson.

“This development unjustifiably ignores that careful and robust regulatory process.”

The Brussels-based EDPB was not immediately available for comment. Wednesday is a bank holiday in Belgium.

($1 = 11.1800 Norwegian crowns)

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