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Europe: MEP vote takes ‘significant step’ towards restricting invasive tracking-based advertising

Responding to today’s vote by MEPs to amend the Digital Services Act and regulate tracking-based advertising, Claudia Prettner, Legal and Policy Adviser at Amnesty Tech, said:

“Amnesty International has long been highlighting the dangers of surveillance advertising, and today’s vote represents a significant step towards seriously protecting people’s rights.

“It is encouraging that the amendments outlaw the most invasive practices, including the targeting of children and the use of our most sensitive data. However, there remains more work to be done to fully ban the intrusive practice of surveillance advertising.

“With this vote, MEPs are helping us move towards an online environment that better respects our rights to privacy, freedom of expression and non-discrimination.

“Further meaningful regulation of Big Tech platforms remains crucial to forcing companies – such as Google and Facebook – to address the human rights harms created by their surveillance-based business model.” 

Background 

The Digital Services Act is a proposal by the European Commission, which was submitted to the European Parliament and the European Council on 15 December 2020. Amnesty International has publicly campaigned and advocated for the legislation to include a ban on invasive tracking-based advertising.

In a plenary vote on the Digital Services Act taking place yesterday, the European Parliament passed amendments 499 and 500. Amnesty International had previously called for the Digital Services Act to include a ban on invasive tracking-based advertising to rein in the power of Big Tech platforms, and ensure companies uphold their obligations to respect human rights principles.

In a poll published Amnesty International and Global Witness earlier this week, small business leaders in France and Germany said they wanted alternatives to Facebook and Google’s dominant tracking-based advertising.