Digital ad body acts over ‘mass unlawful use of data’

digital twoThe Internet Advertising Bureau UK has finally committed to bring advertisers in line with legislation covering realtime bidding, over six months after the industry was warned that it faced stiff sanctions over current practices which appeared in blatant breach of GDPR.

The industry body has detailed six actions in response to key issues that the Information Commissioner’s Office highlighted in its damning report on the industry, published in June last year. The report slammed online advertisers’ “immature” understanding of data protection and claimed this was triggering the mass unlawful use of consumer data, leaving millions of users at risk of potential harm.

At the time, it gave the industry six months to get its house in order, although many data protection experts claimed the regulator was “pussy-footing” around the tech sector, especially since it only committed to potentially issuing further guidance, rather than enforcement action.

Now the IAB, has committed to:

– Develop good-practice guidance covering data security, minimisation and retention, and work with IAB Europe to explore how the requirements in the Transparency and Consent Framework policies could be enhanced

– Carry out a range of actions to be taken on special category data, including education for the industry on restrictions (developed with other trade bodies), and work to identify potential controls to minimise risks arising from the content of referred URLs in bid requests

– Educate its members on the consent requirements of UK online privacy regulations, with reference to the ICO’s current cookie guidance

– Educate its members on legitimate interests assessment (LIA) requirements and work with IAB Europe to develop resources to support companies to meet these requirements

– Educate members on data protection impact assessment (DPIA) requirements and encourage them to review their processing operations in light of the ICO’s existing guidance. It will also identify whether additional guidance is needed for the industry and work with relevant trade bodies as they develop their own DPIA approaches and guidance

– Provide transparency and fairness of information to consumers.

In a blogpost published just before Christmas, ICO executive director for technology and innovation Simon McDougall warned that the future of realtime bidding was “in the balance”.

He said: “We are now considering our next steps and deciding how best to address our ongoing concerns. Our teams are spending time absorbing all the information gathered and the rich conversations we’ve had throughout the year. There are many encouraging signs, though a significant amount of work remains.

“To summarise, some of what is happening now appears to us to be unlawful, based upon the evidence we have seen to date. The future of realtime bidding is both in the balance and in the hands of all the organisations involved. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be evaluating all of the options available to us and will be providing a further update in early 2020 on our position and on any action we’re taking.”

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