Technology giant Meta has lost a Norway court case about online users’ privacy that leaves it open to a multimillion pound fine.
The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (Datatilsynet) fined Meta – the company behind Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp – one million NOK (£74,723) per day since 14 August for harvesting user data and using it to target ads. The daily fine is scheduled to continue until October. Meta appealed the data regulator’s fine but lost the case in an Oslo court on 6 September.
Datatilsynet’s head of international, Tobias Judin, discussed the fine in a statement and said: “[The] decision does not ban Facebook or Instagram in Norway. The purpose is rather to ensure that people in Norway can use these services in a secure way and that their rights are safeguarded.” The statement also specified that targeted ads based on location, gender, age and interests the users have shared themselves would still be permitted.
More regulation around targeted ads could affect advertisers and marketers’ jobs, as finding the right consumers on social media will be more difficult. “This is a big victory for data privacy,” Datatilsynet said of the Oslo court’s decision, while Meta has not yet confirmed if it will appeal the verdict.
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Norway is not a member of the EU, but is part of the European single market, and is now considering taking the case to the European data regulator. This could mean Meta would face similar issues in other European countries.
The tech giant is already in hot water with the EU over data concerns. In May, the EU handed Meta a 1.2 billion euro (one billion pounds) fine for transferring users’ personal data to the US. This included names, emails, IP addresses, geolocation data, viewing history and messages. The fine is the biggest since the EU’s new data privacy regulations took effect five years ago and Meta responded by saying it would appeal the decision.
Meta is not the only social media company facing data privacy concerns from governments. Apprehensions around Chinese-owned TikTok’s data handling has led to discussions on a complete ban of the app in the US. TikTok’s response was to store all US users’ data on servers controlled by Oracle, a US tech company. Additionally, some countries – including the UK, US, Denmark and Canada – now don’t allow the video app on government-issued phones due to data concerns.
By Dina Zubi, CORQ news and features writer.