Meta slapped with $600M lawsuit from Spanish media outlets

Meta slapped with $600M lawsuit from Spanish media outlets

A group representing more than 80 media outlets in Spain slapped Meta with a $600 million lawsuit Monday alleging the Facebook parent has broken European data privacy laws.

The suit filed by Asociacion de Medios de Informacion, a trade group whose clients include major news brands such as El Mundo and El Pais, alleges Meta ignored rules requiring users to provide consent before their personal information can be used for digital advertising.

The alleged anticompetitive behavior reportedly occurred between 2018 and 2023.

“The systematic and massive use of personal data of users of Meta platforms, tracked without their consent throughout their digital browsing, would have allowed the American company to offer the sale of advertising space on the market based on an illegitimately obtained competitive advantage,” the group said, according to a translated version of its press release.

A lawyer for the group told Reuters that in “any other EU country, the same legal proceeding could be initiated.”

El Pais
The news outlets are seeking $600 million. Cover/Getty Images

European Union regulators ruled earlier this year that Meta would need user content for certain targeted advertising.

Meta did not immediately return a request for comment.

The brewing legal battle emerged as media outlets and lawmakers around the world push for Big Tech firms such as Meta and Google to pay their fair share for news content.

Last week, Google reached a settlement in Canada in which it agreed to pay 100 million Canadian dollars, or the equivalent to $73.6 million, per year to the country’s news outlets in exchange for use of their links in search results.

Google said Canadian officials had addressed their concerns about the Online News Act, which requires payments from tech companies with 20 million unique monthly users and annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

Google had previously threatened to block news content from its site in Canada.

Meanwhile, Meta has already blocked news content for Canadian users.

Meta faces a growing push to make it pay for news content. REUTERS

 In 2021, Australia passed a similar law requiring tech firms to negotiate content deals with publishers.

In the US, legislation mandating payments to news outlets is in the works in California and on Capitol Hill.

Google also faces a pending federal antitrust lawsuit targeting its alleged monopoly over the online advertising market.

Recent research published by Columbia University found that those two companies alone should be paying at least $14 billion dollars per year to news outlets to account for the ad revenue generated by their search traffic.

With Post wires

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