Profiling and Online Behavioural Advertisement Under the GDPR Has the new Regulation succeed in assuring the protection of fundamental rights without hindering innovation and economic interests in the digital economy?
The emergence of new forms of interactions in the online environment, as social media, search engine and e-commerce has shifted the business industry and introduced a data-driven economy, where data has become the new commodity. As a consequence, agents engaged in commercial activities have been collecting massive data from internet users, for instance, to predict consumer behaviour and to place tailored advertisement based on the users’ interests. Online behavioural advertisement can be legitimate and it has an important role in the digital economy, as it supports the offer of free services and it can result in better services and products to be offered to consumers. On the other hand, it raises privacy and data protection concerns, as it involves massive collection and processing of data by different agents. The legal treatment of profiling for online behavioural advertisement shall substantially change with the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulation, which brings new provisions for processing personal data, particularly in the online environment. Given the relevance of the new Regulation, its legislative process was surrounded by pressure and lobby by privacy authorities and industry. The final result of the Regulation is a long and complex framework, which imposes several new obligations to the companies, whereas user’s rights are substantially strengthened. However, privacy advocates argue that the final text of the Regulation could be better in terms of protecting users. The purpose of this work is to analyse whether: i) the final text GDPR provides an efficient protection of privacy and data protection in the digital context and; ii) whether the GDPR offers the agents engaged on online behavioural advertisement some level of flexibility on their business activities, insofar as they can explore the economic potentials of a data-driven economy.