The Types project developed tools to help internet users learn how online advertisers use their data.

Types: making online advertising more transparent

Online advertising is big business nowadays: it supports some of the internet’s most widely used services, including search engines, social media, news sites, and user-generated content. At the same time, people’s concerns about how online advertisers track their browsing and collect their information have made ad-blocking software more popular. These technologies could lead to a loss of revenue and job losses in the advertising industry.

The EU-funded TYPES (Towards transparencY and Privacy in the onlinE advertising business) project created tools to promote a safer, more transparent and thriving online advertising sector: they allow internet users to be alerted to privacy violations, learn the value of their personal data, and set their own rules on how they want to be tracked when visiting websites.

TYPES developed nine tools to promote user privacy and transparency in online advertising. These include eyeWnder, an experimental browser add-on that uses crowdsourcing to generate data on how advertisements are targeted. Users submit to a database anonymous details about the advertisements they have seen as well as their own demographic information. Others can consult the database to see who else has seen an advertisement shown to them, and decide whether or not they were specifically targeted. Another tool, the Data Broker tool, allows users to decide how much their personal data is worth and search for companies that are willing to pay this, without the data being sold by third parties, while the Social Media Data Valuation Tool informs users in real time about the value of the personal information generated by their browsing activity on social media.

In collaboration with the Internet Users Organization, a Spanish non-profit group, the project’s researchers also developed the TestYourPrivacy portal, which contains resources to help internet users understand better what happens to their data online and how they can protect their privacy.

Types in brief

  • Total Budget: EUR 4 661 142.50 (EU contribution: EUR 3 992 663)
  • Duration: 05/2015-10/2017
  • Countries involved: Spain (coordinator), Belgium, Greece, Israel, United Kingdom.

Key figures in the European Union

  • In 2016, 25% of EU businesses used online advertising.
  • 78% of EU businesses advertising on the internet use contextual targeting (advertisements based on webpage content or keywords).
  • In January 2017, the European Commission proposed a new Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications to protect EU citizens and businesses.

Cybersecurity and trust

While opening up new opportunities for citizens to connect and disseminate information, digital technologies have also brought about new risks. These include increasing cyber-attacks and fraud, stealing data, and attempts to destabilise our democracies. It is crucial to invest in cybersecurity, as trust and awareness are the foundation for a functioning Digital Single Market.

The EU has responded to these challenges, for example by adopting the Directive on Network and Information Security and proposing a new mandate for the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) along with a new framework for certifying cybersecurity in digital products and solutions. The Commission’s proposed new Digital Europe Programme also includes EUR 2 billion of funding for cybersecurity.

Download the full project success story

Project website