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Action is being taken to increase transparency on the processing of users’ personal data on the internet, but the main digital advertisers still rely on intrusive practices that try to influence people’s behaviours. European regulation on data protection could mitigate the issue, but its enforcement is limited
Over the years, Big Tech companies have morphed from mere platforms to major international players with vested financial and political motives and connections. Their roles in influencing elections in Europe must be seriously addressed.
When it was rumoured that banknotes could be spreading the coronavirus, banks that teamed up with card networks rubbed their hands with glee. Mastercard, Visa or the Internet giants like Google Pay or Apple Pay saw a unique opportunity to convince consumers to use their technology. Overnight, merchants in most European countries allowed card purchases for amounts that were sometimes less than one euro, with lower transaction fees, while supermarkets encouraged customers to pay for their groceries through contactless payment.
The online advertising system is based on the collection and sharing of user data, in an opaquely competitive market which rests mostly in a few powerful hands, including Google. Privacy and data protection are at issue, and Europe is debating what action should be taken.
New European legislation will significantly increase the accessibility of data produced with public finances: therefore, data produced by public enterprises, i.e. companies which provide essential services such as public transport to many cities.
How many are there? Who are they? What kind of work do they do? These are all questions that the report seeks to answer, with figures to support them.
Mark Zuckerberg had nothing new to say, while MEPs seemed determined to introduce new regulations. Those interested in the future of social media may do well to tune their antennas to Brussels rather than to Facebook headquarters.