IAB Europe Urges Caution on Amendments to the European Parliament’s Negotiating Position on the Digital Services Act

20 January 2022, Brussels, Belgium – The European Parliament has voted to accept new amendments to its position on the Digital Services Act, which will be put to a final vote today. A number of these provisions give cause for concern for all those who support an efficient, secure and prosperous European digital market. 

Amendment 202, on online interfaces, prohibits service providers from ever asking for consent for data processing if a user has objected “by automated means using technical specifications”. We are concerned that this means that individual website or app publishers who want to request consent for legitimate purposes will be barred from doing so if a user has checked a box at the browser or OS level. This would strengthen the gatekeeper role of dominant players and have a disproportionate effect on small publishers. 

Amendments 498 and 499 demand that services provide equal access and functionality to users who refuse consent for data processing for the purposes of advertising. This risks creating a ‘free rider’ problem and putting in peril huge swathes of the ad-supported information economy. 

Commenting on the vote, IAB Europe Director of Public Policy Greg Mroczkowski said:

“The use of personal data in advertising is already tightly regulated by existing legislation. It is disappointing that in a mistaken belief that targeted advertising causes online disinformation or breaches privacy and data protection principles, MEPs have decided to pass amendments that not only overlap with the GDPR and existing consumer law but risk undermining these rules, as well as the entire ad-supported digital economy. 

“We urge policymakers to take good account of the progress currently being made in GDPR enforcement and reconsider these amendments during the trilogue process to ensure we end up with a DSA that provides legal certainty for all actors.

“Ultimately, a Digital Services Act that boosts transparency and certainty across the online economy is in everyone’s interests. We will be consulting with our members and all interested stakeholders to try to come up with solutions that are workable, secure and efficient.” 

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