Row set to erupt over delivery of industry privacy icon

A row over who will be responsible for the delivery of the online ad industry’s forthcoming privacy icon looks set to erupt, following a preview at yesterday’s ExchangeWire event.


IAB head of regulatory affairs Nick Stringer, who has been spearheading its development, revealed the icon to the industry at the event. He explained that although it is intended for use across behaviourally targeted ads, it could be used across all UK display ads.

This prompted discussion as to who would be responsible for the delivery of the icon, and how it would be delivered on display advertising.

While members of the audience said they thought the responsibility should fall to those doing the ad serving, ad serving firms at yesterday’s event said they did not see why they should take on the extra cost and responsibility.

Agreement on delivery of the icon will be crucial to success of self-regulation, which the IAB is pushing as the best way to meet demands that the industry addresses consumer concerns over privacy and data collection.

The icon, which is being piloted across a small number of UK sites, is central to the digital industry’s self-regulatory framework, which sets out consumer information on their privacy options, as well as giving them control over opting-out of tracking through a pan-European website, Your Online Choices.

An icon on all ads served through retargeting or behavioural targeting will provide information on why consumers are seeing the ads and how their data is collected, in a bid to alleviate concern.

By clicking on the icon, users can learn that not only are they non-identifiable, but that behavioural and retargeted ads are vital for keeping online content free.

EU data protection regulators, under the Article 29 Working Party, have argued that the collection of online browsing habits using cookies doesn’t meet the requirements of the ePrivacy directive, due to come into effect in May.

A show of hands among audience members revealed that less than ten in around 200 people knew exactly what the revised privacy directive coming into effect in May will mean for their businesses or their clients.

Stringer said, “The IAB believes that all businesses that collect and use information for behavioural advertising – including retargeting – should commit to the cross-industry EU Framework to show consumers, policy-makers and the industry itself that they are being transparent, offering greater consumer control and support self-regulation. The alternative to such an approach may threaten the balance between protecting consumer privacy and evolving business models helping to deliver innovative content and services.

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