Microsoft’s LinkedIn Halts Sensitive Data Tool in Response to EU Regulations

LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, has discontinued a tool that enabled the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising, complying with new European Union online content rules, the social media platform announced on Friday.
LinkedIn job IndiaThis decision follows a complaint by civil society organizations to the European Commission, which regulates technology within the 27-member bloc. The complaint highlighted concerns about LinkedIn’s advertising practices potentially violating the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The DSA mandates that online platforms provide users with more control over their data, including the option to disable personalized content. Crucially, it prohibits the use of sensitive personal data such as race, sexual orientation, or political opinions for targeted advertising.

In response to these regulations, LinkedIn removed the capability for advertisers to create audiences based on membership in LinkedIn groups, which could inadvertently target users based on sensitive data, Reuters news report said.

“We’ve decided to adjust those tools by removing the ability to create an advertising audience in Europe that uses membership in LinkedIn Groups as an input,” stated LinkedIn’s Vice President Patrick Corrigan in a LinkedIn post.

“We made this change to prevent any misconception that ads to European members could be indirectly targeted based on special categories of data or related profiling categories,” he added.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton commended LinkedIn’s action. “The Commission will monitor the effective implementation of LinkedIn’s public pledge to ensure full compliance with the DSA,” he said in a statement.

The complainants, including European Digital Rights (EDRi), Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF), Global Witness, and Bits of Freedom, lauded LinkedIn’s decision. “Forced by Europe to act, LinkedIn must now widen this policy to users everywhere and ensure it’s not just those in Europe who are protected from invasive ad targeting,” said Global Witness’ Nienke Palstra in a statement.

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