Will Facebook Be Forced To Charge European Users?

By David Cohen 

Yes, we know: Facebook is free and always will be. But Eduardo Ustaran, head of the privacy and information law group at European law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, which specializes in technology and intellectual property, warns that proposed changes in European Union data-protection laws may force the hand of the social network, as well as other free, ad-supported online services, such as Gmail.

Ustaran told ZDNet that regulations that curb the ability of companies like Facebook to collect, analyze, and sell their users’ personal data will result in those companies being forced to abandon their ad-supported models and examine the prospect of charging users. He said:

If they weren’t able to use your data in the way that is profitable or useful for them for advertising purposes, then either the user has to pay for it or stop using the service. (They) wouldn’t be able to rely on legitimate interest and they wouldn’t be able to rely on consent.

Facebook Head of EU Policy for Brussels Erika Mann urged caution, as well, telling ZDNet:

We are concerned that some aspects of the report do not support a flourishing European digital single market and the reality of innovation on the Internet, which is inescapably global in nature, and which includes important partners like the U.S. We will be examining these proposals closely in the coming weeks.

Readers: Do you think Facebook will eventually be forced to abandon its “free and always will be” policy in Europe?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.