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LinkedIn Restricts Ad Targeting in EU Following Data Use Complaint

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 12, 2024
LinkedIn Restricts Ad Targeting in EU Following Data Use Complaint

LinkedIn Restricts Ad Targeting in EU Following Data Use Complaint

LinkedIn has announced a change in its advertising practices in the European Union, ceasing to allow advertisers to target users based on their activity in LinkedIn Groups. This decision follows a complaint to the European Commission (EC) regarding the potential misuse of sensitive user data, which might conflict with the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Implemented across the EU in February, the DSA aims to establish a rigorous framework for online content governance and regulate aspects such as algorithmic transparency and targeted advertising.

Originally introduced in 2010, LinkedIn Groups were designed to enable users to connect over shared interests. Despite various iterations, including a brief period as a standalone app, the feature was fully integrated into the main LinkedIn app in 2018.

Why Did the European Commission Investigate LinkedIn?

The controversy began when the EC received a complaint in February, prompting an inquiry into LinkedIn’s practices, particularly whether the platform enabled advertisers to target ads based on sensitive personal data like racial background, political affiliations, or sexual orientation. Although LinkedIn asserted its compliance with the DSA, the company chose to proactively eliminate the capability for advertisers in Europe to use LinkedIn Group data to create targeted advertising audiences.

Patrick Corrigan, LinkedIn’s Vice President for Legal and Digital Safety, emphasized that this step was taken to eliminate any misconceptions about potential indirect targeting based on sensitive categories of data. The adjustment is already in effect for all new advertising campaigns in Europe.

Although LinkedIn implemented these changes voluntarily, likely to preempt further regulatory scrutiny, it still permits targeted advertising that does not utilize group-based data.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton acknowledged LinkedIn’s commitment to ensuring compliance with the DSA. “The Commission will continue to monitor LinkedIn’s adherence to this commitment closely,” Breton remarked. He also noted the positive impact of the DSA in instigating changes that have not been achieved by other laws, both within and outside Europe.

The announcement coincides with the EC’s recent actions under the DSA, including the designation of the Chinese e-commerce platform Temu as a “very large online platform” (VLOP), which subjects it to additional regulatory scrutiny due to its significant reach. Temu is the 24th entity to be categorized as either a VLOP or a very large online search engine (VLOSE) under the DSA regulations.

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Featured Image courtesy of BongkarnGraphic/Shutterstock

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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