MEPs vote in favour of new rules regulating tech companies use of tracking-based advertising

Today MEPs are voting in favour of sweeping new rules for regulating tech companies via the Digital Services Act, finalising the European Parliament’s negotiating position. The position includes a ban on the most invasive and controversial elements of surveillance/tracking-based advertising, including for minors and using sensitive data - such as people’s sexual orientiation, religious beliefs or health information. 

“Today, in an unprecedented move, politicians have stood up to Big Tech’s toxic business model. For the first time they have voted for real restrictions that will stop tech companies from making astronomical sums by selling information about their users’ health, religion, sexuality and political persuasion” said Nienke Palstra, Senior Digital Threats Campaigner at Global Witness. 

“Surveillance advertising feeds into a wider system of tracking and personalisation which means the information we have access to online is wildly different, polarising communities and damaging democracy. This move is a first step in reclaiming the internet.”

The negotiations will now progress to intensive talks between EU Member States, European Parliament and the European Commission expected to be finalised by April 2022. 

Earlier this week, Global Witness, together with Amnesty Tech, released new polling results which showed that leaders of small businesses in France and Germany oppose Facebook and Google’s system of surveillance ads with 75% believing they harm people’s rights and 80% wanting to see more regulation.