ICO hunts advisors for inside track on adtech industry

adtech1The Information Commissioner’s Office is so desperate to work out how the adtech sector actually works that it is seeking to gain the inside track by recruiting principal technology advisers with online advertising industry experience.

According to the ICO website, it is looking to fill “a number of technology advisory positions – roles that will help us shape how emerging technologies and information practices impact the lives of the UK public”.

At the top of the wish-list are technical experts “with experience in online tracking/surveillance technologies, such as cookies, fingerprinting, web beacons and/or experience of the online advertising technology ecosystem (such as experience of omnichannel methodologies, the technical development of DSPs/SSPs/CMPs/Exchanges)”.

The ICO says the advisors will “build on the significant work we have carried out over the last year concerning adtech and real-time bidding, and further develop our understanding about how emerging technology is being used to track people across the Internet”.

The roles will be based in Wilmslow or London, although those hoping for mega bucks could be disappointed with the £45,697 annual salary, about £30,000 less than the average digital strategist working at a London agency.

The ICO also has vacancies for principal technology advisers with expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, human-computer interaction and user experience; all on the same salary. Again, that might prove problematic; according to a recent salary survey, freelance UX strategists trouser over £600 a day.

The regulator has been wrestling with the adtech issue for nearly two years now, following the first GDPR complaints over real-time bidding, logged just weeks after the regulation came into force in May 2018.

Last month, the same complainants, privacy browser start-up Brave, the Open Rights Group and University College London, threatened to push for a judicial review of the ICO after accusing it of failing to act on the adtech issue, which they branded “the largest data breach ever recorded”.

The ICO’s response has been to turn its guns on brand owners, warning them over their part in funding the adtech industry and demanding that they look into what data is being collected in their name.

At the time, ICO executive director for technology and innovation Simon McDougall said: “It’s the brands that are funding all of this. If a regulator keeps on saying something is unethical, and it’s illegal, it’s problematic, at what point does it become an ethical issue for the brands to keep bankrolling those instances?”

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