Tracking-based advertising: harms and how to counter them

Tracking-based advertising undermines fundamental rights and furthers the economic interests of Big Tech platforms at the expense of other businesses. The amendment to the Digital Services Act on tracking-based advertising – as voted in IMCO in December 2021 – falls far short of addressing these systemic harms.

Amnesty International has, together with Global Witness and Panoptykon, developed a guidance document, which explains and evidences in more detail both the fundamental rights harms as well as the economic harms the tracking-based advertising model causes. It then showcases how online targeted advertising can be relevant and more profitable without tracking, using rights-respecting alternatives, such as contextual advertising.

As such, we urge MEPs to support alternative wording that truly counters the economic and fundamental rights harms of tracking-based ads, as called for not only by the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor, but also by the very Members of the European Parliament.