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Microsoft’s LinkedIn Halts Targeted Ad Tool to Comply with EU Regulations

 |  June 9, 2024

In a recent move to align with European Union (EU) online content regulations, LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, has discontinued a controversial tool that enabled the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising. The social media platform announced the decision on Friday, following pressure from civil society organizations and regulatory scrutiny.

The decision follows a complaint to the European Commission by various civil society groups. These organizations raised concerns that the tool might allow advertisers to target LinkedIn users based on sensitive personal data such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, and other personal details through their membership in LinkedIn groups, reported Reuters, 

The Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into effect recently, mandates online intermediaries to provide users with greater control over their data usage. It also includes provisions that prohibit the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising without explicit consent.

Related: Microsoft’s Efforts to Comply with EU Antitrust Rules May Require More Steps

In response to these regulatory requirements, LinkedIn’s Vice President Patrick Corrigan announced the adjustment. “We’ve decided to adjust those tools by removing the ability to create an advertising audience in Europe that uses membership in LinkedIn Groups as an input,” Corrigan stated in a LinkedIn post. He emphasized that the change aims to eliminate any misconceptions that European members could be indirectly targeted based on special categories of data or related profiling.

This development was welcomed by EU industry chief Thierry Breton, who stated that the European Commission would monitor the effective implementation of LinkedIn’s commitment to ensure full compliance with the DSA. “The Commission will monitor the effective implementation of LinkedIn’s public pledge to ensure full compliance with the DSA,” Breton said in a statement.

The civil society groups involved in the complaint, including European Digital Rights (EDRi), Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF), Global Witness, and Bits of Freedom, praised LinkedIn’s decision. “Forced by Europe to act, LinkedIn must now widen this policy to users everywhere and ensure it’s not just those in Europe who are protected from invasive ad targeting,” said Nienke Palstra of Global Witness.

Source: Reuters