Norwegian court fines Meta for data harvesting
Oslo — Meta Platforms can be fined for breaching users’ privacy, a Norwegian court ruled on Wednesday, stopping an attempt by the owner of Facebook and Instagram to halt a fine imposed by the country’s data regulator.
Meta was fined a million crowns ($93,200) a day since August 14 for harvesting user data and using it to target advertising at them. What is called behavioural advertising is a common Big Tech business model.
The owner of Facebook and Instagram sought a temporary injunction against the order from the Norwegian data regulator, Datatilsynet, which imposed a daily fine for three months.
“This is a big victory for privacy,” Datatilsynet said in a statement.
The case could have wider European implications as Datatilsynet is considering referring the decision to the European data regulator.
If the European Data Protection Board agrees with Datatilsynet, it could widen the decision vs territorial scope to the rest of Europe and make the fine permanent. The Norwegian agency said on Wednesday it had not yet decided on a referral.
Norway is not a member of the EU but it is a member of the European single market.
Meta said that the authority’s decision was disproportionate, impossible to meet and in violation of other laws, but the court rejected the claims.
“None of these arguments will affect the outcome,” Judge Henning Kristiansen said while ordering Meta to pay Datatilsynet’s case costs.
Meta declined to say whether it would contest the verdict. “We are disappointed by today’s decision and will now consider our next steps,” said a Meta spokesperson.
Meta said at a two-day court hearing in August that it had already committed to seek consent from users and that Datatilsynet used an “expedited process” that was unnecessary and did not give the company enough time to answer.
The regulator said it was not clear when and how Meta would seek consent from users. In the meantime, user rights were being violated.
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