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Meta to ask EU users’ consent to share data for targeted ads

Social media giant Meta on Tuesday said it intends to ask EU-based users to give their consent before allowing targeted advertising on its networks including Facebook, bowing to pressure from European regulators.

It said the changes were to address “evolving and emerging regulatory requirements” amid a bruising tussle with the Irish Data Protection Commission which oversees EU data rules in Ireland, out of which Meta runs its European operations.

European regulators in January had dismissed the previous legal basis — “legitimate interest” — Meta had used to justify gathering users’ personal data for targeted advertising.

Currently, users joining Facebook and Instagram by default have that permission turned on, feeding their data to Meta so it can generate billions of dollars from such ads.

“Today, we are announcing our intention to change the legal basis that we use to process certain data for behavioural advertising for people in the EU, EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland from ‘Legitimate Interests’ to ‘Consent’,” Meta said in a blog post.

Meta added it will share more information in the months ahead as it continues to “constructively engage” with regulators.

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“There is no immediate impact to our services in the region. Once this change is in place, advertisers will still be able to run personalised advertising campaigns to reach potential customers and grow their businesses,” it said. Meta and other US Big Tech companies have been hit by massive fines over their business practices in the EU in recent years and have been impacted by the need to comply with the bloc’s strict data privacy regulations.

Further effects are expected from the EU’s landmark Digital Markets Act, which bans anti-competitive behaviour by the so-called “gatekeepers” of the internet.

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