Social media platforms to the European Commission
The Vienna-based European Center for Digital Rights (NoB), led by lawyer-turned-activist Max Schrems, on Thursday filed a complaint with the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) regarding an advertising campaign that it considers a violation of the GDPR. The EU’s own data protection rulebook.
According to Noyab, the Commission’s Home Affairs Department – commonly known as DG Home – had in September this year polled social media users on the basis of their political views and religious beliefs to garner public support for itself. Targeted at. controversial bill On child sexual abuse.
The file submitted to the data protection watchdog provides evidence that the Commission used the so-called ‘keyword targeting function’ – which targets X users based on the keywords they search for or use in their posts – To reach those who were No Interested in keywords #Qatargate, Brexit, Marine Le Pen, Alternative für Deutschland, Vox, Christian, Christian-phobia or Giorgia Meloni.
Such practices would be a violation of X’s own policy, which prohibits targeting users according to “sensitive” categories, including race, religion, and political affiliation. Pressure from the EU executive, concerned about manipulation of information and foreign interference in elections, has forced X to tighten this policy.
“Although people’s political opinions and religious beliefs are specifically protected by the EU GDPR, these data categories were used for the advertising campaign,” Noyeb said in a press statement.
In response to the complaint, Johannes Bahrke, a spokesman for the European Commission, said: “We are aware of the complaint and reports relating to a campaign run by the Commission’s services on X and we are currently conducting a thorough review of this campaign. Are.” ,
“As regulators, the Commission is responsible for taking appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the rules applicable to all platforms,” he said.
“And internally I can say that we provide regularly updated guidance to ensure that our social media managers are familiar with the new rules and that external contractors also fully implement them,” he also Said.
Felix Mikolasch, data protection lawyer at Knob, said: “The EU Commission has no legal basis to process sensitive data for targeted advertising on X. No one is above the law, and the EU Commission is no exception. “
The nonprofit also said it was considering filing a similar complaint against Ax for “enabling the illegal use of sensitive data for political micro-targeting.”
Meta’s archive shows that similar targeted ads published by DG Home on Facebook and Instagram in Czech, Italian and Portuguese were removed in June 2022 because the Commission required ‘paid for’ disclaimers on ads related to social issues, elections Had failed to include. Or politics.
The Commission is also accused of using misleading data to influence public opinion on its proposed new law to combat child sexual exploitation, which was first tabled by the EU executive in May 2022.
A Post Targeting people over the age of 18 in the Netherlands Citing data based on opinion polls.
But Knaib claims the messages used in the ads are “misleading” as they fail to point out the “negative impacts” of new rules planned by the EU executive to tackle child sexual exploitation.
a deeply divisive bill
The piece of legislation at the center of the complaint has sparked controversy, pitting privacy advocates against children’s rights defenders.
EU home affairs chief Ylva Johansson has repeatedly claimed personal responsibility for the content of the Commission’s proposed legislation, which would introduce emerging technologies to detect new and existing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and child grooming activities. calls for the use of force majeure, giving national authorities the power to bind. Digital services to scan users’ communications, including encrypted messages.
But the digital rights lobby claims it would lead to a mass surveillance regime and end digital privacy as we know it.
The Justice Committee of the European Parliament also weakened the Commission’s original proposal in its draft position adopted on tuesdayCalling for protecting encrypted communications and making scanning of digital content a “last resort” option, used only where there are “reasonable grounds for suspicion”.
The controversy surrounding the file involves allegations of economic interests and undue influence in Commission decision-making, which forced Commissioner Johansson to respond,
This is not the first time Ax has been drawn into a political fight over proposed regulation. Johansson’s impassioned statements on Have been done.
EDPS itself took a critical stance on the CSAM bill joint opinion It was adopted in July last year citing “serious concerns” regarding possible violation of the fundamental right to privacy and protection of personal data.
Noyb is calling on the EDPS to fine the Commission for violating its own GDPR rules and to ban the EU executive from running similar campaigns.