Ad-targeting should be made transparent, data ethics body says

February 5, 2020 by No Comments


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Major online companies should be required to host publicly accessible archives of certain targeted adverts, a government-commissioned report says.

Political ads and those for housing, credit, jobs and age-restricted products should be included, it says.

It follows controversy over the targeting of political adverts during the 2019 general election.

Web users want “meaningful control” over how their data is used to target advertising, the report says.

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI)’s report also suggests the forthcoming online harms regulator should have the power to:

  • give independent experts secure access to online businesses to audit their use of people’s data
  • compel online companies to give access to independent researchers “for research of significant potential importance to public policy”
  • make companies take steps to protect vulnerable people and be accountable for the effects of ad-targeting systems

This regulator should also establish a code of practice for businesses that buy or sell targeted ads online, the reports says.

“We have reviewed the powers of the existing regulators and conclude that enforcement of existing legislation and self-regulation cannot be relied on to meet public expectations of greater accountability,” it says.