Norway is first European country to win lawsuit against Facebook, Instagram over illegal data collection

By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

European regulators have fined Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, several times, but now one country has won a lawsuit against the social media platform, and last week the European Commission ruled that even the biggest tech companies must comply with the law.

Google, Amazon, Apple, Bytedance (Tiktok), Meta, and Microsoft must comply with Europe’s new Digital Market Act (DMA), with the European Commission last week listing the biggest “renegade” platforms with more than 45 million users in the EU. The new package of legislation states, among other things, that companies cannot track users outside their platform without consent or prevent the removal of certain apps or programs from a phone or computer.

The EU’s fines have opened the way for some European countries to fine Meta over data protection issues. Norway, a non-EU country, was the first to act.

The Scandinavian country’s data protection authority ordered the company in the summer to stop collecting sensitive personal information it uses to sell targeted advertising.

Meta was told that if the illegal behavior was not stopped, the company would be fined 1 million Norwegian kroner (€87,400) a day, according to the decision. In early August, representatives of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority and Meta had to appear in the Oslo District Court, as the technology giant challenged the legality of the fine and the decision to pay the fine.

The final judgment was not long in coming and was handed down last week by the Norwegian capital’s court, a day before the European Commission was summoned. The ruling means that the penalty will enter into force for 90 days after the notice back in August, i.e., the 1 million kroner fine can be levied for every day.

“We are very pleased with this decision. This is a victory for privacy,” Line Coll, director of the national Data Protection Authority, told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. He added that it was clear from the ruling that the authority’s decision in July was final and that the fine was recoverable, even though Meta still considers the amount to be illegal and unnecessary.

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