Meta Platforms’ ad-free paid subscription service, which launched in Europe this month, is facing one of its biggest tests yet, as privacy group NOYB filed a complaint with an Austrian regulator on Tuesday, saying it amounts to paying a fee to ensure privacy. Shortly before that, NOYB described Meta’s approach as a “pay for your rights”

The company received a lot of negative feedback and took countless criticism for offering users paid versions of its apps as a way to avoid targeted advertising.

“More than 20pc of the EU population are already at risk of poverty. For the complainant in our case, as for many others, a ‘Pay or Okay’ system would mean paying the rent or having privacy”, said NOYB founder Max Schrems.

Rumours of this subscription model spread last month and were later confirmed by Meta, which said that allowing people to purchase a subscription for no ads “balances the requirements of European regulators while giving users choice.”

In its complaint, NOYB said that under EU law, consent for personalized ads is only valid if it is “freely given”, and argued that the subscription-based alternative is “the exact opposite” of free choice.

According to NOYB, a minimal fraction of individuals expresses a preference for their personal data to be employed in personalized advertising. Conversely, a study indicates that over 99% of people opt not to pay a privacy fee.

The organization also raises concerns about the expenses associated with preserving privacy under the proposed subscription model. NOYB highlights that users would need to commit to an annual subscription exceeding €250 to ensure that their Facebook and linked Instagram accounts remain devoid of personalized advertising.

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