MADRID – The Spanish media industry has taken a significant step in the fight against unfair competitive practices. This is a massive lawsuit against technology giant Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.
The Asociación de Medios de Información (AMI), which represents 83 Spanish news media, has filed a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. They accuse the technology company of “systematic and massive violations” of European data protection laws between May 25, 2018 and July 31, 2023. Consequently, they are seeking damages of €550 million.
AMI issued a statement indicating that charges may be expanded due to Meta’s continued violations. This follows a demand made by the European Data Protection Board on October 27, 2023. According to AMI, Meta has repeatedly violated European law by using personal data for targeted advertising without the required consent of citizens.
In the lawsuit, AMI alleges that Meta “illegitimately” generated revenue from targeted ad sales. Meta is alleged to have collected and used users’ personal data without consent, giving the company an unfair competitive advantage. The legal battle of the Spanish media is led by the law firm of a professor of procedural law.
Media survival under pressure
José Joly, President of AMI, emphasises the importance of this unprecedented legal action. He points out how Meta has built its dominant position in the advertising market at the expense of the privacy rights of European citizens. This causes serious damage to Spanish news media by endangering their survival.
Quality of democracy at stake
Joly points out that Meta’s behaviour threatens the survival of news media, while they are essential for the quality of democracy in a country. According to recent data from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, news media is the second most digitalised sector in the Spanish economy, right after technology companies themselves.
AMI calls on advertisers from the public and private sectors to entrust their advertising campaigns to safe, reliable and responsible media that promote the democratic quality of Spain, in line with their corporate social responsibility policy.