An NGO specialising in the protection of digital rights has filed a complaint against the European Commission claiming that it broke its own laws with a recent online propaganda campaign. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


NGO says Commission broke own laws with propaganda campaign


A digital rights NGO says the European Commission broke its own laws with a recent Twitter campaign.

The European Centre for Digital Rights (NYOB) is lodging a complaint about the advertising campaign, aimed at convincing voters about a controversial child protection regulation.

Critics argue the new child protection rules could enable mass surveillance.

This campaign appears targeted solely at people sympathetic to the European Union, rather than people chiefly concerned about online privacy.

The European Commission also set the campaign to not appear for anyone the Twitter algorithm thinks is either a Christian or interested in conservative politics.

In a “desperate” attempt to garner support the regulatory move, the Commission broke its own laws, says the Centre.

The campaign “which was even flagged as misleading on X, also violated European data protection law,” it says.

“Although people’s political opinions and religious beliefs are specifically protected by the EU GDPR, these very data categories were used for the ad campaign,” it adds.

The campaign goes against the terms and conditions of Twitter — now known as X — its efforts to influence public opinion in EU member-states appears to breach the separation of powers.

“It appears that the EU Commission has tried to influence public opinion… in order to undermine the position of the national government in the EU Council,” it says.

“Such behaviour… is a serious threat to the EU legislative process and completely contradicts the Commission’s intention to make political advertising more transparent,” it adds.

NYOB is now asking the European Data Protection Supervisor to start a “comprehensive investigation” into the Commission’s actions.

The EU’s apparent decision to break its own laws as “mind-boggling”, says the NGO’s data protection lawyer Maartje de Graaf.

The Commission has no legal basis to target its advertising using sensitive information about religion or political beliefs, says lawyer Felix Mikolasch.

“Nobody is above the law, and the EU Commission is no exception,” he adds.

The online campaign appeared earlier this month.

The advertisements even remain live on Twitter, says Euractiv.

The revelations could discredit the Commission’s efforts to crack down on online free speech under the auspices of protecting Europe from “hate speech” and “disinformation”.

Using the Digital Services Act, the EU is now routinely threatening big tech firms with large possible fines over alleged failures to properly implement its regulations.

Online shopping platform Amazon is the EU tech crusade’s latest victim of the EU’s tech crusade, and now has until December 6 to comply with Brussels’ demand to hand over information.