Meta’s Threads app delays launch in EU due to privacy concerns

Threads, the upcoming app from Meta (formerly Facebook), is facing privacy concerns even before its release. Mandatory disclosures on iOS reveal that the app may collect sensitive user information, such as health and financial data, precise location, browsing history, contacts, and search history. This raises questions about whether Threads will be able to launch in the European Union (EU), as Meta’s previous legal basis for processing personal data was deemed unlawful. The EU also requires explicit consent for the processing of sensitive information, and upcoming regulations place even stricter limits on the use of such data for advertising. Additionally, Meta recently faced an order to stop sending EU user data to the US and was fined for breaching the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Bringing Meta’s advertising business in line with EU law will require significant changes. It remains uncertain whether Threads will launch in the EU, as legal risks are a concern for Meta. The app is set to launch in the UK, which has different regulatory requirements. While Meta has been fined for GDPR breaches in the past, the UK’s data protection watchdog has been relatively inactive in addressing surveillance advertising industry breaches. Meta was fined over $410 million in January for running behavioral ads on Facebook and Instagram without a valid legal basis. Under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), penalties could reach up to 10% of global annual turnover, which is higher than penalties under the GDPR. However, previous fines under the GDPR have remained below the maximum limit.

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