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EU Squeezes Small Businesses and Consumers in New Ruling Against Meta

DUBLIN—Today, EU regulators in Ireland’s Data Protection Commission ruled that Meta cannot participate in personalized advertising based on users’ online activity, delivering a major blow to Europe’s small businesses and consumers. 

Interest-based ads have benefited both consumers and small businesses by keeping the cost of both online services and advertising down. They also reduce the amount of ads consumers see that are irrelevant to them.

The Sears-Roebucks custom catalogs sent directly to consumers based on their prior purchases was an early form of personalized advertising. The technique of trying to make ads more relevant for those that see them is nothing new. Today, the internet continues that endeavor with advertisers providing us with ads based on how we use their services. But privacy radicals in Europe want to make this illegal, and they’ve turned to bullying American businesses with exorbitant fines. 

“The EU’s ban on interest-based advertising means Europeans will see more ads, more paywalls, and less content,” said NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo. “Eliminating online ads will make it harder for consumers to access content relevant to their needs and interests.”

“Online ads are the lifeblood of the internet. They are what keep services low-cost or free by paying for our searches, our Tweets, and our videos. This attack on personalized ads not only costs the businesses that provide it, but it will make advertising more expensive and less effective for small businesses to reach customers. Because of interest-based ads, small businesses enjoy not only historically low-cost ads, but also historically more effective ads. If this lifeline for small businesses disappears, EU citizens will be the victims.”

Szabo continued: “The EU is dictating how and when services and consumers interact while weaponizing a privacy law to attack American businesses, instead of trusting its citizens to make the choices that best fit their privacy preferences.” 

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