ISBA president stresses need to ‘shape the debate’ over digital practices

Coca-Cola UK general manager Jon Woods has warned marketers and agencies that the industry needs “to achieve a balance between valid concerns on privacy … and fostering e-commerce” and called all relevant bodies to work together and with the Government on this issue.

Jon Woods

Woods, speaking in his capacity as president of ISBA at the IPA annual lunch today (2 May), said that online behavioural advertising is “perhaps the most pressing” issue faced by the industry.

He acknowledged that the EU ePrivacy regulation that could affect personalised digital advertising still needed plenty of clarity “but in the meantime advertisers and agencies alike should be aware of the regulations to ensure that they do not unwittingly get into difficulties”.

He said: “The crux of the issue is transparency towards consumers. This means consumers being told what data is held on them, and by whom, and being given the chance to opt-out if they so wish.”

Woods said that the best way of ensuring that marketers maintained a voice in regulatory developments in the digital arena was to “continue to collaborate and take effective self-regulatory action”.

He said: “Whilst the digital landscape is moving apace, we should not view it as a lawless expanse for which sensible regulations cannot be developed. We need to work towards this. Firstly, to provide consumers with the assurance they seek and, secondly, because it is a growing concern for stakeholders and policy makers.

“As an industry, we need to be ready not just to respond, but to shape the debate. To do this we must act responsibly and show our willingness to continue to collaborate and take effective self-regulatory action.

“The Government is prepared to seek partnership and voluntary initiatives to effect change. We should respond positively to this.”

Later this month the Information Commissioners office will begin enforcement of the EU Privacy and Communications Directive that requires all European websites to gain consent from users to use cookies that procure data.

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