Users of WhatsApp could be seeing a lot this ads on the service in future.

European Proposal Cracks Down On Personalized Ads

Users of WhatsApp could be seeing a lot this ads on the service in future.

Tired of seeing ads every time you log into social media? If you count yourself as someone who sees ads as incredibly annoying, you’re in luck. Good news could be on the horizons for ad-haters who use certain messaging apps.

This month, the European Union executive presented a proposal that will crack down on how WhatsApp, iMessage and Gmail can track their users. The proposal stipulates that these companies must actually ensure that their users’ conversations will stay confidential. In addition, they will have to request their users’ consent before they put personalized ads on their feeds. For those who are averse to ads, this would significantly impact their experience on these platforms.

The proposal would extend rules currently exclusive to telecom operators to web companies that allow for calls and messages through the internet (known as “Over-The-Top” or OTT services). As a result, it could ultimately pave the way for huge American companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, to become more regulated than they are at the moment.

As of right now, telecom companies cannot use private information about their customers’ habits — such as the length and location of their calls — to profit off of advertisements. However, the proposal would change this: customer metadata could enable companies to provide more services and ultimately increase their earnings.

The proposal would also require web browsers to disallow personal ads based on users’ browsing history. Users must allow for websites to put cookies on their browsers instead by actively choosing to opt-in.

Cookies hold unique information about Internet users. They can reveal which websites a user regularly visits, and the specific location that they surf the Internet from. Cookies allow for companies to place targeted advertisements on users’ pages: they paint a picture of who a user is.

So what could be the downside to these proposed rules? If you ever wondered how a website makes money, it’s primarily through advertisements. So, if a website has no ads, its ability to pay for itself becomes jeopardized. As a result, it’s possible that certain websites may start implementing paywalls in order to continue operating.

In order for the proposal to come into effect, it must be approved by Europe’s Parliament and member states — so stay tuned!

Do you think it’s justified that websites show personalized ads? Sound off in the comments below!

For more on this story, visit The Globe and Mail.

Featured image source: WhatsApp

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