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The latest decision of the EDPB on “consent or pay” models for online platforms

EDPB opinion on pay-or-consent model

The regulators of the Netherlands, Norway and Germany (Hamburg) have asked the European Data Protection Board ( EDPB ) for an opinion on whether large online platforms may use ‘consent or pay’ models for behavioural advertising based on valid and voluntary consent from users. The background was Meta’s introduction of a subscription model in October 2023, where users have the choice of either paying a monthly fee to use Meta’s services without ads, or using the services for free and seeing ads – a direct example of a “consent or pay” model.

The EDPB ‘s ruling on this issue is that large online platforms that only give their customers the choice of either paying a fee or consenting to the processing of personal data for behavioural advertising are not in line with the General Data Protection Regulation. Such a model leads to forced consent and disadvantages users who choose not to consent. According to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), valid consent must be voluntary and users should not feel forced to consent to data processing in order to use the services of an online platform.

In cases where the use of these major online platforms is essential for social participation or access to professional networks, restricting access to those who have not given consent is considered negative and is not in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality, purpose limitation, data minimization and fairness under the GDPR.

EDPB recommendations on compliance

In order to meet the standards of the GDPR, the EDPB therefore calls on platforms to offer a genuine “equivalent alternative” that does not entail additional costs. This means a possible third consent option that does not entail any costs for users and still allows them to use the services of these major online platforms.

Implementation of a third consent option

For example, a possible solution could consist of three buttons on the cookie banner: “I agree to all”, which would mean that one voluntarily agrees to the processing of behavioral advertising; “I agree without behavioral advertising”, which would mean that one refuses to process behavioral advertising but can use the service up to a certain limit; and finally “I pay”, which would mean that one does not agree to the processing of behavioral advertising but can use the service with more features than the last option.

consentmanager users can add their custom “Accept without behavioral advertising” button to the first level of their cookie button by following our technical instructions on our help page here .

These options help ensure that your users have more options to give their consent than just accepting all the terms or paying a fee.

If you have any further questions, please contact mail@ consentmanager .net.

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