BRUSSELS—Ahead of the European Parliament’s vote Thursday on a series of amendments to the Digital Services Act (DSA), the Center for Data Innovation issued the following statement from Senior Policy Analyst Benjamin Mueller:
A number of lawmakers have previously attempted to shoehorn a blanket ban on targeted advertising into the DSA—something the legislation was never designed to do.
Data-driven advertising has been unfairly accused of undermining privacy on the Internet, despite the fact that Europe’s wide array of data protection laws stringently regulates personalized ads. Privacy activists consistently ignore the fact that targeted digital ads are the most effective low-cost marketing tool available to businesses that use online marketing. They allow SMEs and start-ups to advertise to new audiences that have previously expressed an interest in their products or services. As a result, personalized ads are more relevant to users and likelier to generate new business that supports growth for companies. This simple proposition is a win-win for businesses and consumers and provides €16b in income per year for European media companies and app developers.
Due to the overwhelming nature of the case for personalized advertising, a blanket ban has been taken off the table. However, a number of amendments can still achieve a similar outcome through the back door. Efforts to regulate the “informed consent” process undermine publishers’ right to independently obtain consent from their users for advertising purposes, bureaucratize website designs, and conflict with existing GDPR rules. In addition, mandating that platforms do not disable functionalities for users who refuse consent would attack the business model of many publishers who rely on marketing income to provide their services for free.
The European Parliament must not vote for legislation that could cost the EU’s digital economy billions. Targeted advertising is a safe and effective tool for advertisers, publishers, and users alike. No amount of ideologically driven campaigning can change that core fact, and MEPs would do well to remember it.