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IAB Europe Press Statement on UK ICO’s AdTech Update Report

IAB Europe welcomes yesterday’s ‘Adtech Update Report’ issued by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). We appreciate the ICO’s measured approach and focus on understanding the practices of, and engagement with, the advertising industry as expressed in the report. We look forward to working with the ICO over the coming weeks and months to continue to educate the ICO on the industry’s practices, identify and address its concerns, and drive the industry in a positive direction toward a standardised solution.

The ability to address the ICO’s concerns is near impossible to achieve without a standardised industry solution and we share the ICO’s aim that parties operating within digital advertising can continue to operate responsibly and in compliance with relevant laws, to ensure the sustainability of this innovative sector which underpins the ad-funded internet.

We also welcome the opportunity to clarify some of the misconceptions in the report’s description of the features and functionality of the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF). The TCF provides a common framework to facilitate compliance with certain of the requirements of the ePrivacy Directive and the GDPR for every part of the advertising value chain, from publishers and technology companies through to agencies and advertisers. In addition, the TCF ensures publishers and advertisers can provide users transparency and choice about the processing of their personal data while continuing to maintain choice in the technology companies with whom they wish to work.

The Content Taxonomy provides nomenclature for categorizing content. It can be applied by publishers and other companies in conjunction with OpenRTB – a communication protocol supporting real-time bidding – and other technologies to allow for better placement of advertising alongside editorial, notably including avoidance of ads for content falling into sensitive categories. Companies choosing to implement the OpenRTB protocol and Content Taxonomy are responsible for ensuring that any personal data they pass or receive complies with the privacy laws and restrictions of their jurisdiction. This is similar to a companies’ use of any similar technology, such as HTTP or Wi-Fi.

The IAB Europe Policy team and I will be working closely with the ICO – as we have with other regional Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) – and this ongoing dialogue will inform any future iterations of the TCF, to strengthen its ability to support the industry in mitigating privacy-related risks, so online users have confidence and trust in how their data is being used.

Townsend Feehan, CEO, IAB Europe

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