The EU’s New Digital Services Act — What Does it Mean for Global Privacy?

Three main bodies of the EU — the European Commission, European Council, and European Parliament — have reached a “political agreement” on the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The new law mainly deals with regulating illegal and harmful content online, which will have wide-reaching effects for online users around the world. While the main points of the act have been agreed, it’s not yet finalized. 

As it stands, the act will have a significant impact on global privacy, whether the finer details have been agreed on or not.

A Movement Towards Greater Online Privacy

When the legislation was first announced in 2020, it appeared the act would give internet users greater control over their online privacy. In particular, one of the greatest threats to online privacy — micro-targeted advertising — would be regulated or even banned under the new law. 

Could the DSA put an end to targeted advertising?

As is often the case, however, the initial high hopes have not been fully realized. The final text bans certain types of ads on online platforms, but only when they target children or rely on  certain categories of personal data to target users, including ethnicity, political views, and sexual orientation. 

The Center for Democracy & Technology highlighted that other privacy-friendly movements were dropped during negotiations. This includes the protection of end-to-end encrypted services and the right to use services anonymously. 

On the plus side, the act does include a new requirement for transparency, notably for micro-targeted ads. Under the legislation, websites

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