Open letter: Digital rights advocates unite against Meta’s “Pay or Okay”. Privacy and data protection are NOT for sale

In response to three Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) requesting a European Data Protection Board (EDPB) opinion on Meta's 'Pay or Consent' approach, Access Now, the EDRi office and other EDRi members have united in an open letter urging the Board to reject these subscription-based approaches unequivocally.

By EDRi · March 7, 2024

In a joint effort, several EDRi members have penned an open letter urging the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to take a decisive stance against the controversial “Pay or Consent” models.

Read the open letter

The EDPB will play a crucial role

The letter, initiated by Access Now and the EDRi office, emphasises the critical role the EDPB’s forthcoming opinion will play in safeguarding the right to privacy and data protection at the European Union (EU) level and on a global scale.
The EDPB’s opinion has the potential to prevent the normalisation of such “Pay or Consent” models, and the business model attached to it. The missive reinforces the message previously conveyed by some EDRi members to the Board, also cautioning against the dangers of “Pay or Okay.

GDPR says that forcing people to pay for privacy is not free consent

The text underscores the inherent conflict between these subscription-based models and the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It argues that forcing users to pay for privacy contradicts the GDPR’s cornerstone of freely given and informed consent.

Additionally, the EDPB is urged to consider the broader implications of the so-called “Pay or Okay” approach on fundamental rights, emphasising the incompatibility with the essence of human rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Paying for privacy amplifies social inequalities and discriminatory exclusion

By reframing privacy and data protection as purchasable commodities, the letter warns of the negative societal impacts, deepening social inequalities and perpetuating discriminatory exclusion.

The plea extends beyond the borders of the EU, recognising the potential repercussions and emphasising the EDPB’s pivotal role in shaping the narrative around the right to privacy and data protection.

In conclusion, the letter calls on the EDPB and DPAs to firmly reject “Pay or Consent” models and ensure clear guidelines are established to prevent their proliferation.

The digital rights community awaits the EDPB’s decision with anticipation, holding the hope that it will set a robust precedent for privacy and data protection standards globally.

Itxaso Domínguez de Olazábal

Itxaso Domínguez de Olazábal

Policy Advisor

Twitter: @itxasdo