Meta Pixel illegal in Austria

24 Jun 2023
24 Jun 2023

Meta Pixel, formerly known as Facebook Pixel, is an analytics tool that allows businesses to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements by understanding the actions people take on their website. By integrating a small amount of code on a website, Pixel can collect data about user interactions, such as visits to the website, viewing specific pages, and completing purchases or other important actions. This data can then be used to optimize ads, build targeted audiences for future ads, and retarget qualified leads. An important aspect of Pixel is that the collected data is sent back to Meta's servers, which has been the subject of legal consideration in relation to personal data protection laws in various jurisdictions.

Meta Pixel illegal in Austria

Facebook's tracking tool, Pixel, which is widely used by businesses for tracking and microtargeting of ads, has come under increased scrutiny in Europe, which could ultimately affect other European companies.

In Austria, it has become illegal to use Pixel, as it is considered to be in violation of GDPR rules. This comes in the wake of a case brought by the privacy organization Noyb (None of Your Business), which has complained about 101 European companies for their use of Google Analytics and Pixel, including the Danish company Boligportalen​.

Google Analytics has already been made illegal in most of Europe in its standard integration. This also happened on the basis of a case that started in Austria.
Read more in our article: "Google Analytics illegal (partially)"

Why is Pixel in violation of GDPR?

The core issue with Pixel is that the personal data it collects is sent back to Facebook's server in the USA.

In 2020, the EU court ruled that European data may not be sent to the USA, as data protection there is considered to be inadequate compared to EU standards.
Particularly, it was highlighted that the access to personal data by American intelligence services is not regulated well enough.

This was the same reason that previously made Google Analytics illegal in most of Europe.

Is Meta Pixel illegal in other European countries?

Although the Austrian decision does not yet have a direct impact on the other European countries, and thus Meta Pixel is not illegal there (as of 24-06-2023), Ayo Næsborg-Andersen, a lecturer at the legal institute at the University of Southern Denmark and a researcher in personal data law, believes that it could influence Danish and other European companies. He notes that for example the Danish Data Protection Agency is currently considering a similar case, and we have previously seen them follow in the footsteps of the Austrian Data Protection Agency. The various European data protection agencies exchange knowledge, and therefore there is a high probability that they will come to a similar conclusion​​.

The Data Protection Agency in Denmark is aware of the Austrian decision, but has not yet wished to comment on it, as they themselves are in the process of handling a similar case​​.

It is important for all European companies to be aware of these developments, as they can have implications for how they use tools like Pixel in the future.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in this case.


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