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Meta Disagrees with €405 Million Fine on Instagram Over Children’s Privacy Breach

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Irish regulators have fined Instagram €405 million for breaching children’s privacy.

The lengthy court case concerned the children’s data, in particular their telephone numbers and email addresses. Some reportedly upgraded their services to business accounts so that analytics tools such as profile visits were available, unaware that this action made their data public.

Instagram owner Meta said it plans to appeal the decision. This is the third time regulators have fined the company.

“We adopted our final decision last Friday, and it does contain a fine of €405 million,” said Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC). 

Meta Wants to Appeal

In an interview with BBC News, a Meta exec said, “This inquiry focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help keep teens safe and their information private.” 

Meta officials went on to explain the updated version of the app, ultimately saying they disagreed with the decision.

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“Anyone under 18 automatically has their account set to private when they join Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post, and adults can’t message teens who don’t follow them,” said the exec. 

“While we’ve engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, we disagree with how this fine was calculated and intent to appeal it… We’re continuing to carefully review the rest of the decision.” 

Agency Heads Says the Fine is Only Fair

The DPC governs the regulation of technological giants with European headquarters in the Republic of Ireland. It has not so far issued such a hefty fine for violating the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation until recently. 

But last year, WhatsApp was fined €225 million, while the Luxembourg data authority fined Amazon €746 million.

Andy Burrows, the head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) child-safety-online policy, added his sentiment on the matter. 

“This was a major breach that had significant safeguarding implications and the potential to cause real harm to children using Instagram,” he said. “The ruling demonstrates how effective enforcement can protect children on social media and underlines how regulation is already making children safer online.”

Burrows said, “It’s now over to the new prime minister to keep the promise to give children the strongest possible protections by delivering the Online Safety Bill in full and without delay.”

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Opinions expressed by The Meta Magazine contributors are their own.