August 2023 | Data protection watchdog fines Meta over behavioural advertising
In August, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority’s temporary ban on Meta’s behavioural advertising went into effect, and the watchdog began fining Meta NOK 1,000,000 per day for non-compliance. The decision, taken in July, instituted a three-month ban on Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, from targeting users with behavioural advertising on its social media platforms, which track users’ online activity for marketing purposes. According to the Data Protection Authority, the decision seeks to safeguard the data protection rights of Norwegian users, where Meta fails to secure consent to process users’ behavioural data. Earlier in July, the European Court of Justice ruled that users visiting a platform cannot be construed to mean that the user manifestly makes sensitive data public, as grounds for permitting such data to be processed. Meta has filed a case with the Oslo District Court to grant a temporary injunction to halt the ban, and a decision is expected in September.
July 2023 | Parliament disciplinary committee launches conflict of interest probe into government
Opposition parties reached a quorum within Parliament’s disciplinary committee to initiate an investigation into the Norwegian government’s handling of a series of conflict of interest cases. Culture Minister Anette Trettebergstuen resigned, while Tonje Brenna remains in her post as Education Minister, after it became public at the end of June that they had both separately appointed friends to board positions for the state opera and for a Norwegian foundation, respectively. In July, Minister for Higher Education and Research Ola Borten Moe resigned over allegations he breached ethics rules by purchasing shares in defense company Kongsberg Gruppen immediately prior to participating in a meeting to discuss awarding the company’s subsidiary a lucrative government contract. Norway’s economic crime department, Økokrim, is mulling whether to open a full investigation into Moe’s purchase of shares while minister. The committee’s findings will be put to a vote in Parliament and can lead to a motion of no-confidence in the most severe case.
June 2023 | Electoral law aims to expand accessibility and confidence in elections
The parliament approved the Elections Act, geared towards ensuring public confidence in legislative and local elections. The law aims to promote transparency in the counting of ballot papers, clarifies responsibility for overseeing the vote in polling stations, and introduces new requirements to ensure impartiality of election workers handling ballots. A new complaints system is introduced designed to subject election complaints to independent legal review. In addition, new requirements for polling station accessibility ensure that voters with disabilities can be assisted by an election official or other person designated by the voter. Finally, the law includes provisions that make it possible to postpone or extend an election in case of extraordinary events that may interfere with voter turnout. The law enters into force in time for the 2025 general election and will not apply for local elections scheduled for September 2023.