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European Parliament approves initial proposal to ban some targeted ads

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The law will prevent Big Tech from using sensitive information for targeted advertising

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

On Thursday, the European Parliament voted to approve the initial draft of a bill that aims to curb Big Tech’s invasive advertising practices (via Bloomberg). The Parliament adopted the draft with 530 votes of approval, 78 against, and 80 absentations.

The Digital Services Act, which was first introduced in 2020, will prevent platforms, like Google, Amazon, and the Meta-owned Facebook, from using sensitive information, such as sexual orientation, race, and religion for targeted ads. It will require services to give users the ability to easily opt out of tracking, and pressures platforms to remove illegal content and products online, including hate speech or counterfeit goods.

“With a huge majority, the European Parliament adopted the Digital Services Act,” Dutch politician and Parliament member Paul Tang wrote on Twitter. “A big win, with support from left to right.”

The approved proposal also includes two rules that the Parliament agreed on last month: a ban on both targeted ads for minors and dark patterns, a practice that some platforms use to trick users into agreeing to share their data. Any company in violation of these policies could face fines of up to six percent of its global revenue.

As noted by Bloomberg, the Digital Services Act still has more hurdles to overcome; negotiations with the European Council start on January 31st. US Democrats introduced a similar bill last week, which would also ban targeted advertising if passed.