Highly personalised ads imply highly personalised data about you. Despite what Facebook/Meta and the intrusive advertising apologists say, collecting, storing and profile-building that information is a huge security risk to each and every individual on the internet. And yes, I know there have not been any “known” breaches reported, but known is doing a lot of lifting in that statement.

After more than five years of extensive litigation by noyb, the German Kartellamt and decisions by the EDPB and CJEU, it seems that Meta finally complies with EU privacy laws:

5 years of litigation: Meta apparently switches to consent for behavioral ads

Many think that policy advisors in the EU Commission develop policy ideas like they’re given in Christmas crackers. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as policy is shaped mainly by research and findings. And whether you agree or disagree with eventual legislation, the foundations of it are not some verbal fart of a career policy wonk with incentives to climb the greasy pole of EU politics.

Firstly, I’d like to point you to a document from the European Commission, the Study on the impact of recent developments in digital advertising on privacy, publishers and advertisers.

The Executive Summary lists many conclusions and observations, with one that is particularly interesting and not widely understood:

There is limited evidence to suggest that the efficiency and efficacy gains of advertising products that rely on personal data and profiling outweigh the interference with individuals’ fundamental rights and consumer rights in addition to the reported negative societal impacts. A large amount of academic research has focused on demonstrating that the way that digital advertising works today has significant impacts on privacy, data protection, democracy, society and the environment. However, there is a lack of independent analysis to assess the costs and benefits of using personal data and profiling in advertising.

And this:

Lack of transparency in digital advertising limits evidence-based decision-making because advertisers lack independent data to assess the performance of digital advertising. This strengthens the position of players with strong market power and deters advertisers from switching to emerging alternatives that are less intrusive, even though there is evidence that some advertisers would prefer to rely on models that minimise the processing of unnecessary personal data. More independent data about the performance of alternative models compared to the status quo is needed to encourage widespread adoption among advertisers and publishers.

The efficacy of online advertising has always been bullshit and a mechanism of wealth extraction from advertisers and targeted individuals alike. It is time to expose it for what it is —essentially a scam.

5 August 2023 — French West Indies