Facebook, Google Face Tighter Ad-Tracking Curbs in Europe


Tech platforms such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook face tighter restrictions on how they target ads to users, after European lawmakers voted to toughen upcoming legislation.

The European Parliament moved to favor rules that restrict platforms from using sensitive data — race or religion, for instance — for targeting purposes, and require them to make it easy for users to opt out of tracking while continuing to use their products. 

The result of the vote, announced Thursday, makes measures set last month by a committee of European lawmakers even stricter. That agreement included a ban on targeting ads to minors, and using so-called dark patterns, where platforms push people to consent to being tracked online. It also allows people to seek compensation if platforms continue to promote content that they know harms people.

Lawmakers voted against provisions to completely ban targeted ads completely, however.

Representatives for Google and Facebook didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The rules could go into effect as early as 2023 as part of the Digital Services Act, a measure advanced by the European Commission in 2020 to regulate online content by requiring illegal posts to be taken down and make information about algorithms available to researchers.

Still, the law faces tough negotiations due to begin Jan. 31 with EU member states and the commission, neither of which proposed such strict measures on tech companies.  

Large companies that violate the rules face fines of as much as 6% of their global sales.