Meta to offer ad-free subscription plans in Europe

Julie Rubash, Chief Privacy Counsel
October 9, 2023

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Ad Groups Launch New Data Privacy Initiative

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) announced the Responsible Privacy in Advertising Initiative “to provide policymakers and industry a roadmap to expand privacy protections for all Americans, champion responsible approaches to the use of data in online advertising, and to develop additional guidance and tools to drive compliance with data privacy laws and industry standards”.

The initiative will involve building on existing self-regulatory frameworks for the advertising industry and supporting passage of a national privacy standard through Congress. 


Specific next steps under the new initiative have not been announced, but ANA CEO Bob Liodice was quoted in the announcement saying that the initiative will convene industry stakeholders to develop solutions to support compliance with state laws and industry codes and inform advocacy for preemptive federal data privacy law and enhanced state laws. 


Meta to Respond to Regulatory Concerns with Ad-Free Subscription Models

According to Reuters, Meta plans to offer European users ad-free paid subscription plans for Instagram and Facebook as an alternative to consenting to personalized ads.

The move, which will reportedly be implemented in the coming months, would be an attempt to comply with European regulations without impacting Meta’s ad business.


Meta is not the first company in Europe to offer paid subscriptions as alternatives to consent, and multiple data protection authorities have blessed the model, although within the parameters of certain guidance.

The Danish DPA announced in February 2023 general guidelines allowing for “cookie walls” as long as certain criteria are met, including:

  1. users must be given a reasonable alternative to the processing of their personal data (e.g., access to the content for a reasonable monetary fee);
  2. any data processed after a user provides consent (as an alternative to payment) must be a necessary part of the non-monetary alternative, or else separate consent must be obtained (e.g., if the non-monetary alternative is processing of personal data for marketing purposes, the company must obtain separate consent for any other purposes); and
  3. if the user chooses to make monetary payment, no personal data should be processed other than as necessary to provide the service requested, unless separate consent is provided.

Similarly, the French DPA (the CNIL) issued “Cookie Wall Evaluation Criteria” in May 2022 advising that websites conditioning access to a service on the acceptance of cookies or other tracer’s on the user’s terminal device should provide a fair alternative at a reasonable price, that the cookie walls should be limited to the purposes that allow for fair remuneration, and that the selection of the paid alternative should result in appropriate limitation of unnecessary tracers.

Read more:

Danish DPA allows cookie walls, within limits

CNIL publishers Cookie Wall Evaluation Criteria

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A Little Privacy, Please weekly recaps are provided for general, informational purposes only, do not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon for legal decision-making. Please consult an attorney to determine how legal updates may impact you or your business.

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