Facebook and Instagram users in the European Union can ask for their data not to be used for tracking-and-profiling purposes thanks to a free tool provided by privacy rights not-for-profit – noyb.
According to this organization, an online form Meta is planning to offer EU users wanting to exercise their legal right to opt out of its ads processing is not at all straightforward — and so they created a much easier way for everyone living in the EU to obtain their rights under the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In order to do this, users should visit noyb’s tool and either log into Facebook (to verify their account); provide them with the email they use for the service; or by objecting via their own email client.
Once confirmed with noyb, the tool will generate an email and send it to Meta’s data protection officer asking for it to stop processing the user’s data for ads.
Under the GDPR, individuals have an absolute right to object to the processing of their personal data if it is for direct marketing purposes; hence there are no grounds for the request to be refused.
There is also an option to see a preview of the objection letter that will be sent to Meta on your behalf.
To sum it up, the letter asks Meta to confirm compliance with the objection within five working days, emphasizing that the user does not wish to be referred to “any links, online forms or other ways to exercise my rights.” It even includes the following sentence: “I would have to treat such a reference as a refusal to comply with my clear request.”
The GDPR states that data processors must comply with a right to object “without undue delay,” which translates to, at the latest, a month after receipt of a request. Otherwise, the entities not complying with this could risk new complaints and even privacy enforcement.
If you live in the EU, you can hop over to this page to access the noyb tool.
The European rights group was behind a successful challenge to the legal basis Meta has claimed for tracking and profiling users that led to the tech giant finally being hit with a $410 million penalty at the start of this year. Also at that time, Meta was required to fix its violations of the GDPR within three months.
As for Meta itself, now that it has to apply alternative forms of ad targeting for users who opt out — we expect them to rely on contextual targeting that does not rely on tracking and profiling individuals.
“Our form turns the table: Meta has to argue why they have an overriding interest — not the user,” said noyb’s founder and chair, Max Schrems. “Users can now opt out of data processing, and Facebook must process this objection without delay. We want to make it as easy as possible for those affected to exercise their fundamental rights.”
Now we can only hope that other countries will follow the EU’s example and launch similar legislation that would finally free us from surveillance ads. Sending a message to your representative could help, so spare a few minutes if you can. If all of us work together on this, we could make waves. In the meantime, make sure all your devices are running a VPN app. 😉