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Amazon must release ad library in EU after all

After all, Amazon must provide information about ads running on its platform in a publicly accessible online archive, according to a decision by the EU’s top court on Wednesday.

Advertising transparency requirements are included in the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), a rulebook for online governance and algorithmic accountability that applies to Amazon’s marketplace starting in late August 2023.

Other tech giants designated by the DSA also adhere to advertising transparency provisions. But Amazon launched a legal challenge to its designation last year and received permission last fall to temporarily suspend elements of the ad library. However, on Wednesday, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) overturned a September decision by the EU’s General Court to grant Amazon a partial stay.

According to the court’s judgment, the EU Court of Justice found that the European Commission, which is responsible for overseeing Amazon’s compliance with DSA rules for large platforms, was denied the opportunity to comment on its arguments during the lower court proceedings, “in violation of the principle that both parties should be heard.” Press release.

In its judgment, the High Court dismissed Amazon’s application for interim measures.

The Court of Justice of the European Union stated that although Amazon’s debate about why The potentially serious concerns expressed by publishing an advertising library should not be complied with, and they must be balanced against the interests of EU lawmakers and their intentions in passing the law – including the risk of potentially years of delays. This element of Amazon’s compliance undermines Objectives of DSA.

The decision is a victory for the European Commission but a blow for Amazon – reversing a partial ban it obtained last year.

It’s also a win for platform transparency, as it will force Amazon to be more open about the ads it displays and monetizes.

Last year, the company failed to persuade a lower court to suspend other DSA measures that applied to its recommendation system, such as the requirement that it provide users with alternative product recommendations that are not based on tracking and analyzing their online activity.

Amazon’s legal challenge to the EU’s designation of its marketplace as a so-called “very large online platform” (also known as VLOP) under the DSA continues. But at the same time, it is expected to adhere to the full pan-EU rulebook. If it fails to comply with the EU plan, it could face a non-compliance investigation and potentially hefty fines of up to 6% of annual global turnover if the EU confirms breaches of the rules.

Following the EU Court of Justice’s decision, an Amazon spokesperson provided TechCrunch with a statement in which the company said:

We are disappointed with this decision and believe that Amazon does not meet the description of a “very large online platform” (VLOP) in the DSA and therefore should not be designated as one. Customer safety is Amazon’s top priority and we will continue to work closely with the EC to fulfill our obligations under the DSA.

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