Meta’s ‘Pay or Okay’ System Deemed Dangerous As Activists Voice Opposition In Open Letter

Since the end of 2023, we saw tech giant Meta roll out a new policy for EU users that would allow them to take full advantage of ad-free content across the company’s apps.

The feature would come at a subscription cost and the policy was called ‘Pay or Okay’. After the rollout, we saw the initiative receive a lot of criticism. And now, we’re hearing more on this front, thanks to activists that are going as far as labeling it a ‘dangerous precedent’.

So what are activists really worried about is the question on people’s minds? After all, getting something ad-free for a minimal cost seems alright, right?

But no, activists are now putting forward a new argument about how it might end up getting copied en masse. This means content that’s up for free would be at risk of plagiarism, and there could be nothing worse than that, activists confirm.

Users in this part of the world were making use of a subscription fee to prevent being tracked, as ads wouldn’t be visible to them. It’s only been a few months since this new rule has come into play.

When Meta makes the call for the rule’s enforcement, it doesn’t come easy. Only after getting approval from the Court of Justice in Europe did we see the change be made. The court ruled that Meta profiting from collecting user data and handling it as its leading source of income was illegal.

This is why and how the switch actually came into play across the EU. Therefore, all of the platform’s terms and privacy policies were changed to better reflect such changes being made.

For a while now, privacy advocacy activists have long argued about it being a serious workaround that enabled Meta to bypass the region’s tough GDPR law. This is related to the fact that the firm is opting to charge users fees for not enabling the tracking of personalized ads. Instead, they just provide a consent form featuring options like yes or no.

Close to 30 different activist groups continue to urge how the EDPB is showing opposition to such policies via the help of open letters that continue to attain attraction from the masses.

The letter whose copy was attained in PDF mentioned how opinions of the EDPBs can give rise to what the future holds in regards to protecting user data online through such apps. Therefore, it’s very important that such opinions make sure data subjects are real and don’t have free choices.

We’re seeing some activist groups such as NOYB which is famous for voicing opinions on digital rights speak about a research that they just took part in. It included data collection on the current implementation of this ‘Pay or Okay’ policy in certain EU member nations. Now, it has been revealed how protecting privacy is super costly and not easy, they added.

For example, 30% of the world’s leading websites found in places like Germany are making use of Pay or Okay to increase consent rates. Through such websites that don’t use tracking for personal ads, it would come at a cost that was greater than 1500 Euros each year.

In locations like Spain, users can face fines that go up to 1460 Euros. Meanwhile, the fine for such violations in France is 1100 Euros.

So now the decision lies in the hands of the EDPB which features agencies that work towards users' data protection from nations like Iceland, Norway, and more. They have until the end of next month to see if Meta’s policies can be objected to or not.

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