Is this so-called online advertising as we know it destined to disappear, marked by the growing concern for privacy and by the antitrust actions of the different organizations? The latest movement in Europe in terms of advertising and who does what comes from a group of internet start-ups specializing in privacy.
The group has petitioned the European Union to ban what they call “surveillance-based advertising.” In other words, they want online advertisements that drink from the monitoring of Internet users and their behavior patterns to cease to be legal in Europe.
The signatories want the EU to include in the Digital Services Law, which is being prepared right now and which will serve as a guide to what companies can or cannot do on the internet, an advertising limitation. The letter calls for stopping what it considers privacy-hostile practices related to surveillance-based advertising. “
Behind the letter are 14 companies (such as DuckDuckGo) and their clear target is the network giants. Banning these kinds of ads would hit Google and Facebook hard. These companies, like the emerging Amazon, have accumulated large amounts of data about consumers and use it to segment which ads they offer to each of them.
Could you go ahead?
Is this a crazy request, given the effect it would have on how the network and digital advertising work, and difficult to pass? Not so much. Internet giants are already being investigated by Europe for their practices in various areas and Google is being investigated right now for its position in the advertising market.
EU market regulators are concerned that the position of the network giants is so powerful that they have left other players with no room for maneuver to try to find their place. At the end of the day, these big players are the ones who have the proprietary technology that manages online advertising, but also unmatched access to data.
Their dominant position in other areas makes them able to access consumers in an elusive way. Returning to the letter sent by the European start-ups, this is exactly the key point of the petition. The signatories believe that in the model in which the market now operates, only a few players can access these necessary amounts of data and that these platforms, they accuse, can abuse their dominant position.
“These practices seriously undermine competition and take income from content creators,” they warn in their complaint. To that they add that the system that works now has little respect for the privacy of its users. In short, they believe that this model creates monopolies and harms consumers in respect of their private life.
A community body had already requested it
Their claims are in a way in line with what one of the bodies of the European Union itself asked for a year ago. The European data protection supervisor now called for just over a year ago to ban segmented advertising that used consumer surveillance as a data source.
The supervisor asked for more privacy and more control over how the information is used. These recommendations were information that they expected MEPs to take into account, but what is clear is that the lobby critical of these practices has been increasing since then.