EU institutions near agreement on online advertising crackdown – EURACTIV.com
An agreement on rules for online advertising in the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) appears to be within reach, according to new compromise text seen by EURACTIV.
The text was proposed by the French EU Presidency, which is currently leading the discussion between member states in the Council of the EU. EU diplomats debated the compromise on Wednesday April 13, ahead of what could be the last high-level meeting on April 22.
According to an EU diplomatic source, member states did not raise any red lines, but a few pointed out that the DSA was not the right legislation to address this issue. However, the French presidency agreed to these measures in a broader agreement on the law on digital markets, the sister proposal of the DSA.
“I’d bet it’s the final text or very close,” a European Parliament official told EURACTIV. “He will get the majority of the shadows,” the official said, referring to representatives of political groups.
Online protection of minors
One of the key demands of the European Parliament is to ban online advertisements targeting minors and dealing with sensitive data. Last week, EURACTIV revealed that MEPs were working on a proposal to ban targeted ads by default unless the platform was sure the user was not a minor.
A proposal from the French presidency for a new article 23b implies that platforms should not present advertising based on profiling when they are “aware” that the user is a minor, nor that they process additional personal data to assess his age.
The Council’s text does not go as far as banning by default but asks platforms to design appropriate and proportionate measures to protect minors. This wording has been moved to the preamble of the text, which is less legally binding than an article.
The document specifies that a platform is considered “accessible” to minors when it is directly intended or mainly used by minors or, more broadly, when the platform is aware that certain users are minors.
Profiling sensitive data
The French presidency has also proposed banning advertising that uses sensitive data such as religious beliefs, sexual orientation and political opinions to profile users, as requested by lawmakers.
However, several Member States have expressed doubts that in this scenario users would not even have the possibility to choose whether they could be targeted or not, as is the case in the Commission’s proposal. to regulate political advertising.
This was reflected in the Council’s initial proposal to refer to the notion of explicit consent already present in the GDPR, the EU’s flagship data protection framework. However, this version was rejected by left-center MEPs because a consent-based solution falls short of a ban.
EURACTIV understands that opposing EU countries are not enough to block the proposal.
According to a source informed on the matter, a total ban on sensitive data is also not an ideal solution for the Commission given the different approach taken in the regulation on political advertisements.
However, this regulation is the responsibility of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, which is not in a position to push for alignment with the DSA since it is not involved in the negotiations.
In contrast, a civil society representative told EURACTIV that “the ban on sensitive data as proposed still misses the mark. It is not enough to ban platforms from using people’s sensitive data to target them with ads. The DSA must prohibit platforms from any type of profiling or targeting that reveals or infers a person’s sensitive characteristics.
Last Friday, far-right French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour texted thousands of French Jews, trying to mobilize the community ahead of the first round of the presidential election with anti-Muslim content. The CNIL has opened an investigation.
“This targeting was based on sensitive inferences made about people guessing that they were Jewish,” the civil society source added. “France’s story should really serve as a huge wake-up call to EU politicians, and the French EU Presidency in particular. One tiny tweak and they can fix that.
According to a four-column document dated April 12 and disclosed by contextthe French presidency is also proposing a compromise proposal against dark schemes, a measure strongly requested by the European Parliament.
“Online platform providers must not design, organize or operate their online interfaces which are necessary to comply with the obligations arising from this Regulation in a way that intentionally or actually misleads or manipulates the recipients of the service, by subverting or undermining their autonomy, decision-making or choice,” reads the new section 23a.
An industry representative told EURACTIV that the wording of this article raises questions about the potential impact on the advertising industry, particularly for ad repositories or transparency interfaces for online ads required by the DSA. At the same time, the notion of “choice” seems to resemble that of consent in the GDPR.
According to this document, the Commission would issue guidance on the application of this paragraph in consultation with the advice of national authorities.
“I think the Commission realizes that a lot of this article is already covered by the UCPD [Unfair Commercial Practices Directive] and GDPR, but they hope to put it all together, providing guidance accordingly,” the industry source said.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]