Meta Platforms can be fined for breaching users' privacy, a Norwegian court ruled on Wednesday, stopping an attempt by the owner of Facebook and Instagram to halt a fine imposed by the country's data regulator.
Meta has been fined one million crowns ($93,200) per day since Aug. 14 for harvesting user data and using it to target advertising at them. So-called behavioural advertising is a business model common to Big Tech.
The owner of Facebook and Instagram had sought a temporary injunction against the order from the Norwegian data regulator, Datatilsynet, which imposed a daily fine for three months.
"This is a big victory for privacy," Datatilsynet said in a statement.
The case could have wider European implications as Datatilsynet is considering referring the decision to the European data regulator.
If the European Data Protection Board agrees with Datatilsynet, it could widen the decision's territorial scope to the rest of Europe and make the fine permanent.
The Norwegian agency said on Wednesday it had not yet made a decision on a referral.
Norway is not a member of the European Union but it is a member of the European single market.
Meta argued, among other things, that the authority's decision had been disproportionate, impossible to meet and in violation of other laws, but the court rejected the claims.
"None of these arguments will affect the outcome," Judge Henning Kristiansen said in his ruling, which also orders Meta to pay Datatilsynet's case costs.
Meta declined to say whether it would appeal the verdict.
"We are disappointed by today's decision and will now consider our next steps," a Meta spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
Meta told a two-day court hearing in August it had already committed to ask for consent from users and that Datatilsynet used an "expedited process" that was unnecessary and did not give the company enough time to answer.
The regulator has said it was unclear when, and how, Meta would seek consent from users and that, in the meantime, users' rights were being violated.