Meta blocks EU users from accessing Threads, even if they use VPNs, for running afoul of GDPR

LetsLaw / Data Protection  / Meta blocks EU users from accessing Threads, even if they use VPNs, for running afoul of GDPR
Meta blocks EU users from accessing Threads, even if they use VPNs, for running afoul of GDPR

Meta blocks EU users from accessing Threads, even if they use VPNs, for running afoul of GDPR

As it is not yet available in most European countries due to data protection regulations, leading tech company Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has taken the decision to block all European Union (EU) users from accessing its new social network Threads, even when trying to access it via VPN connections.

It was on 5 July that the company led by Mark Zuckerberg launched its new microblogging platform in an attempt to unseat Twitter amid user discontent over changes implemented since Elon Musk acquired the platform.

The new app links directly to Instagram and allows you to post threads, reply to other people and follow content from multiple accounts. In any case, links, photos and videos can be included to make posts more interactive.

Incompatibility with GDPR and current regulations

Although the application was launched globally, in more than 100 countries, those belonging to the European Union were not on the list. This exclusion is due to an incompatibility of a legal nature.

On the one hand, Threads uses Instagram user data, including behavioural and advertising information, which is not allowed under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

On the other hand, another problem Threads is running up against is the EU’s new Digital Markets Act, which prohibits the mixing of user data between different services of the same company. In order to use Threads, users are required to be registered on Instagram at the same time, making it mandatory to be present on both applications.

In this context, it is worth remembering that last May the Irish Data Protection Commission fined Meta 1.2 billion euros for breaching European privacy regulations and ordered the parent company of Facebook and Instagram to stop transferring data of its European users to the United States.

Not even with VPN

However, non-compliance with data protection laws was not initially an obstacle to users activating Threads. Many European users have been eager to try out the novelty, and so have been using a virtual private network or VPN to log in.

A VPN allows you to change your IP address, which is the address that signals the country you are accessing from. These users changed their IP address to one from the United States or one of the countries where Threads is available, in order to access the social network.

Faced with this situation, Zuckerberg’s company had to take additional measures to ban access to the application from European Union countries and thus avoid a fine from the continental institutions.

What data does Threads collect?

According to Meta’s privacy policy and the app’s iOS listing, Threads may track users extensively and collect a variety of personal data including sensitive information.

It states that it collects health and physical activity data, financial information, contact information, user’s shared content, browsing history, mobile data usage, system diagnostics, purchases, location, contacts, search history, user and device identifiers, and so on.

This means that Meta requires a valid legal basis for the processing of such personal data for the targeting of advertisements.

In order to use certain apps, we agree to terms and conditions that are rarely observed carefully; terms and conditions that must be accepted in order to access those apps and not be locked out. The user trusts that the person responsible for the application will make good use of their data.

That is why, from Letslaw by RSM, we want to remind the importance of knowing the permissions granted to these applications to make users aware of the millions of data they generate, most of them without realising it, which perhaps should not be shared so lightly. We are experts in Digital Law, so we can help you in all aspects that you need.

Contact Us

    By clicking on "Send" you accept our Privacy Policy - + Info

    I agree to receive outlined commercial communications from LETSLAW, S.L. in accordance with the provisions of our Privacy Policy - + Info