Norway court upholds ban on Meta Platforms’ behavioral marketing

The Oslo District Court ruled against Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook) and in favor of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (Datatilsynet) Wednesday, upholding its decision to impose a temporary ban on behavioral marketing on Facebook and Instagram.

The case revolves around a request for a provisional injunction against Datatilsynet’s directive to prohibit Meta Ireland and Facebook Norway from processing personal data for behavioral marketing based on GDPR Art. 6(1)(b) and (f) in connection with their services Facebook and Instagram. Behavioral marketing is ads and marketing targeted to an audience based on actions taken on a website, rather than demographic information.

Meta and its subsidiary Facebook Norway argued that Datatilsynet’s directive was invalid. They claimed the directive could not legally target Facebook Norway as it is not the data controller, and that they were not given proper notice or opportunity to respond before the decision was made. They also argued the urgent measures taken by Datatilsynet were not justified under GDPR rules.

However, Datatilsynet maintained its directive was valid. It argued Facebook Norway could be considered an “establishment” of Meta Ireland in Norway, and therefore falls under the scope of the decision. Datatilsynet also said Meta and Facebook Norway had an adequate opportunity to respond through prior correspondence in the case. It asserted that urgent measures were necessary after the Irish Data Protection Commission failed to adequately respond or take action to ensure compliance with the GDPR rulings against Meta’s practices.

In its judgment, the Oslo District Court found that Datatilsynet’s directive was valid. It determined Facebook Norway falls under the scope of the decision as an “establishment” in Norway. The court also ruled Meta and Facebook Norway had been sufficiently notified of possible upcoming decisions through prior correspondence in the case. It agreed with Datatilsynet that the urgent measures were justified. As a result, the Oslo District Court upheld Datatilsynet’s decision and denied the request for a temporary injunction. Consequently, Meta Ireland and Facebook Norway are not permitted to process personal data for behavioral marketing purposes.

Tobias Judin, Head of the International Section at the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, welcomed the court’s ruling, stating, “This is a thorough ruling that provides useful clarifications. We are very pleased that the Court agrees with our assessments.” Meta, on the other hand, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision. A Meta spokesperson said, “We are disappointed by today’s decision and will now consider our next steps.”