Meta is facing a call from lawmakers in the European Union to scrap its controversial “consent or pay” tactic on Facebook and Instagram.

Currently, the company demands a per-account fee of €9.99/month on web or €12.99/month on mobile for users in the region wanting to avoid its tracking. No other choice is offered — meaning users wanting to continue accessing the two mainstream social networks for free are forced to accept a total loss of their privacy.

In its blog post from last year that Meta routinely points to in order to defend the tactic, it claims: “‘Subscription for no ads’ addresses the latest regulatory developments, guidance and judgments shared by leading European regulators and the courts over recent years. Specifically, it conforms to direction given by the highest court in Europe: in July, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) endorsed the subscriptions model as a way for people to consent to data processing for personalised advertising.”

However in an open letter, members of the European Parliament accuse Meta of manipulating users by offering a “false choice” between paying for an ad-free subscription or consenting to ongoing tracking and profiling through its surveillance-based ad targeting. The letter is addressed to Nick Clegg, the company’s president of global affairs — himself a former Brussels-based lawmaker — and has been signed by 36 MEPs, with representation spanning progressive, left-leaning and center/center-left political parties.

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