EDRi joins the Tracking-Free Ads Coalition in the European Parliament

Today, European Digital Rights (EDRi) together with 25+ other organisations joins the Tracking-Free Ads Coalition, led by Members of the European Parliament, as supporters. The coalition is made up of a group of 19 Members of European Parliament committed to ending the pervasive tracking and data mining that has poisoned online advertising across every corner of the internet.

Today, European Digital Rights (EDRi) together with 25+ other organisations joins the Tracking-Free Ads Coalition, led by Members of the European Parliament, as supporters. The coalition is made up of a group of 19 Members of European Parliament committed to ending the pervasive tracking and data mining that has poisoned online advertising across every corner of the internet.

We share policymakers’ concerns that the system behind micro-targeted ads, based on endlessly tracking everybody, everywhere constitutes not only a massive data breach but also creates immense risks for our society as a whole.

“From widespread data exploitation that is virtually impossible to avoid, to a lack of accountability in the data supply chain, targeted ads raise fundamental rights concerns, issues around consumer protection, as well as broader societal harms.” Excerpt from EDRi’s report How online ads discriminate. Unequal harms of online advertising in Europe.

The tracking industry has built an extensive infrastructure made of online trackers embedded in apps, website plug-ins, social media buttons, videos, web fonts, software development kits and many other key parts of the web. By selling advertisers access to people’s eyeballs, in conjunction with in-depth knowledge about their personality, interests, health status, and other intimate information, the tracking industry has created the perfect manipulation machine – available to anyone with a few Euros to spend. This machine doesn’t only show us commercial ads but includes political and issue-based messages, too.

Tracking advertising companies have enabled people to: deliberately push their messages to groups identified as ‘Jew haters’, exclude people from seeing content based on race, and discriminate against people based on other aspects of our lives. Russian state operatives were able to target users who were already receptive to conspiracy myths with messages sowing doubt in electoral fairness and division in democratic societies.

EDRi has engaged extensively in the debate about regulating tracking advertising and our publicly available reports have exposed both the inner workings of this opaque data harvesting industry and how it disproportionately affects those who are already marginalised.

We are proud to support the Tracking-Free Ads Coalition and its aim to enact strict regulation of surveillance-based online advertising. Together, we hope to eliminate pervasive tracking based advertising models from our internet.

Image credit: EFF/ (CC BY 3.0 US)

(Contribution by:)

Jan Penfrat

Senior Policy Advisor

Twitter: @ilumium