ICO releases new data protection standards for the advertising industry

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on Thursday unveiled new mandatory data protection standards for the advertising technology sector (adtech).

New rules apply to businesses devising new methods of online advertising and stipulate that data protection laws must be followed and excessive data collection must stop, in accordance with the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018 .

The ICO has issued a Commissioner’s Notice which states that the protection of user data must be placed at the forefront of any advertising strategy devised by ad technology companies.

“Ultimately, the new online advertising proposals should improve confidence in the digital economy, rather than weaken it,” reads the Opinion. “Solutions must respect privacy while ensuring that they take due account of other relevant laws. “

Users will need to have clear opportunities to receive advertisements without tracking, profiling or targeting based on excessive collection of personal data, the ICO said.

Accountability throughout the data collection and processing lifecycle is also now mandatory, with companies having to prove who is responsible for what task at each stage of the advertising strategy.

Each strategy should clearly identify the targeted processing of personal data and consider ways to reduce damage and mitigate risks to individual users before any processing.

Adtech companies should be fair and transparent about the benefits of data collection, explaining it explicitly to users, and allow users “meaningful control” over processing where possible.

Standard rules for data collection and processing as defined by the Data Protection Act 2018 will also apply, such as the principle of data minimization.

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“What we’ve discovered during our ongoing adtech work is that companies collect and share a person’s information with hundreds, if not thousands of companies, about what that person is doing and looking at. online in order to deliver targeted advertisements or content, ”Elizabeth said. Denham, Information Commissioner at the ICO. “Most of the time, people are not aware of what is going on or have not given their explicit consent. This must change.

“I am looking for solutions that eliminate intrusive online tracking and profiling practices and give people meaningful choice over the use of their personal data,” she added. “My office will not accept proposals based on underlying adtech concepts that reproduce or seek to maintain the status quo.”

He said that Google’s Privacy Sandbox is currently one of the industry’s main proposals and that the ICO is currently working with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to examine how the model can be applied in the UK. United.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to replace the use of third-party cookies with other technologies to enable digital advertising. The project is currently the subject of antitrust allegations in the US and the EU because it requires advertisers to work with Google on ads.

The ICO drew attention to the failures of the adtech industry in 2019, saying it discovered massive illegality in space with numerous breaches of data protection laws, especially with auctions in real time.

Despite this, the data regulator was threatened with legal action by the Open Rights Group, alleging it failed to enforce data laws against ad technology companies that violate data laws. .

The threat of legal action prompted the ICO to relaunch its investigation of the industry after its initial hiatus, saying it did not want to put undue pressure on the industry as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold. settle in UK.

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