May 24, 2024

Meta Faces Legal Action Against Behavioral Advertising in EU

Alexander Hanff, a privacy campaigner, had recently filed a complaint with the Irish DPC, challenging the legality of YouTube’s ad blocker. Hanff is now proceeding to file a similar complaint against Meta.

Hanff points out that behavioral advertising is illegal in Europe. Despite this, Meta has been using user data for behavioral and targeted advertising for the last five years.

He has laid out personal experience behind the complaint, arguing that Meta has been tracking his behavior through his computer devices through various surveillance trackers. Apart from this, Meta has also been tapping data transmissions between devices to gather personal data to use for targeted advertising.

Hanff has referred to two sections of the Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Act 2017

  • Section 2 states that a person would be guilty if he accessed any information system by breaching existing security protocols without any authority.
  • Section 5 states that a person would be held guilty if he intercepts any transmission of data between devices without any legal requirements.

Hanff also pointed out that he had specifically activated DNT (Do Not Track) on his web browsers. DNT is a setting that can be enabled on a web browser that serves as a denial of service. Since Hanff had DNT activated, Meta had no authority to deploy scripts on his devices to gather data.

The Irish law, under which the complaint is now registered, has set several liabilities on officers who enable such offenses to be committed.

Alexander expressed his dissatisfaction towards EU regulators, who have been lousy at enforcing the law.

For someone who has worked for 15 years in the ePrivacy Directive field, Hanff doesn’t seem to play the waiting game this time around. This was why he chose the criminal route of complaint.

Hanff feels that although there has been a shift in the legal approach towards behavioral advertising in the last 2 years, the regulators are largely responsible for the liberty the Big Techs enjoy today.

The state of affairs is such that data collection practices are now considered normal. This is a result of inefficiencies in taking action against violators.

With these two complaints, first against YouTube and now against Meta, Hanff has waged a much-needed war in the interest of public data safety. It remains to be seen how the regulators fare this time around. If he succeeds, it can be considered nothing less than a milestone in behavioral advertising for years to come.

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