Facebook owner Meta asks Norway court to halt privacy fine

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Meta Platforms' business group is seen in Brussels

By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) -Meta Platforms on Tuesday asked a court in Norway to stop a fine that the country’s data regulator has imposed on the owner of Facebook and Instagram for breaching user privacy, in a case that could have wider European implications.

Since Aug. 14, Meta Platforms has been fined 1 million crowns ($94,313) per day for harvesting user data and using it to target advertising at them, called behavioural advertising, a practice common to Big Tech.

The company is asking for a temporary injunction against the order, which imposes a daily fine through to Nov. 3.

“Meta has already committed to ask for consent (from users),” Christian Reusch, a lawyer representing the company, told the court on Tuesday.

The Norwegian data regulator, Datatilsynet, told Meta on July 14 of its intention of fining the company unless Meta took remedial action. The regulator went ahead with the fine on Aug. 7.

On Aug. 1, Meta said it had agreed to ask for consent from users in Europe before allowing behavioural advertising, citing a January decision from its lead regulator, in Ireland, where the company is headquartered.

Reusch also told the court Datatilsynet used an “expedited process” that was unnecessary and did not give the company enough time to answer.

Datatilsynet will present its arguments on Wednesday.

The regulator has previously said it was unclear when and how Meta would seek consent from users and that, in the meantime, their rights were being violated.

“Datatilsynet will argue that there is no basis for an injunction,” Tobias Judin, the regulator’s head of international section, told Reuters.

Datatilsynet could make the fine permanent by referring its decision to the European Data Protection Board, which has the power to do so, if it agrees with the Norwegian regulator’s decision.

That could also widen the decision’s territorial scope to the rest of Europe. Datatilsynet has yet to take this step.

The hearing at the Oslo district court will last two days.

($1 = 10.6029 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Devika Syamnath)