Interactive Advertising Bureau
02 April 2019

IAB Europe’s Press Statement Regarding Cookie Wall Complaints

It is regrettable that Johnny Ryan’s ongoing PR campaign against the digital advertising industry and in particular his unfounded and inaccurate accusations against IAB Europe are becoming ever more desperate. His claims only distract from the work regional and national regulators, alongside not-for-profits such as our own, are doing together to create a more transparent, trusted and safe online experience, for consumers, brands and publishers.

Ryan’s latest complaint can be split into two distinct issues: firstly, a challenge that the way we obtain consent for cookies on is unlawful. This is then being used as leverage for his ongoing, more general allegation regarding the guidance we provide to support the entire digital advertising industry.

We will issue a full rebuttal of Ryan and his employer’s accusations in due course, however to take each of these briefly in turn.

The ePrivacy Directive requires that user’s grant their consent before any cookies are used that aren’t strictly necessary for the functioning of the website. The consent requirement covers, amongst others, cookies used for analytics, advertising and social media sharing buttons. It is these uses we ask users’ consent for. Neither the GDPR or ePrivacy Directive prohibit a website operator from making access to their website conditional on consent for cookies and/or any data processing associated with it. Considering all relevant provisions of the law, IAB Europe is confident that the way it obtains consent for the use of cookies on its website complies with the requirements of the law.

With regard to Ryan’s broader accusations regarding our position within the digital advertising industry, it is perhaps helpful to set these within the commercial context of his employer’s business. Their current model blocks ads served transparently by the partners a publisher chooses to monetise their content and instead injects their own ads, coercing a publisher to give up a share of their revenue in the process. As a result, it is in Ryan’s interest to position himself as an arbiter of privacy standards.

In contrast, IAB Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that works closely with government, regulators and all parts of the digital advertising industry, to ensure regulation is fit-for-purpose and then implemented correctly. Whilst we will address these latest complaints in the appropriate manner, they will not distract us from this primary goal.

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