IAB Europe appeals Belgian Data Protection Authority ruling

Posted on Friday 04 March 2022 | IAB UK

IAB Europe files an appeal against the administrative ruling by the Belgian Data Protection Authority (APD) regarding IAB Europe and the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF)

July 2022 update: A decision on IAB Europe’s appeal to the Belgian Market Court regarding the APD’s ruling on IAB Europe’s management of the TCF is now expected in September rather than July. In May, IAB Europe withdrew its request for suspension of the APD’s decision until the appeal process was concluded because the APD has confirmed that it will not take a decision on IAB Europe’s action plan until the Market Court’s decision has been issued. Find out more via IAB Europe’s FAQs here.


Last month, the Belgian Data Protection Authority - the APD - published its ruling on IAB Europe and its role in the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF). It stated that IAB Europe is a data controller of the TC String (the digital signals created to capture data subjects’ choices on how their personal data can be processed), which the APD considers to be personal data.

IAB Europe disputes the allegation that it acts as a controller for the recording of TC Strings, and as a joint controller for the dissemination of TC Strings and other data processing done by TCF participants under the OpenRTB protocol.

IAB Europe’s appeal, filed before the Market Court in Belgium (part of the Brussels Court of Appeal), includes a request for suspension of the execution of the decision, which would pause all orders of the APD until a decision on the merits is rendered by the Market Court. 

Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe, said: “Immediate enforcement of the decision would deny an appeal of its relevance and effectiveness, and would have irreversible and serious consequences for our organisation.

“Eliminating the grounds on which the APD considers IAB Europe to be a data controller would reduce the TCF to a mere open-source standard without enforceable policies. Paradoxically, this would render ineffective the consumer protection objective that underlies the APD’s jurisdiction, and the apparent reason for which proceedings against IAB Europe exist. We do not believe this is the aim of the law, nor that self-regulatory standards should be weakened because of a misguided interpretation of the law. This is why we are challenging the decision.”

IAB Europe will communicate on the outcome of the request for suspension in the next few weeks. For further information about the appeal process, please read and download IAB Europe’s updated FAQ document here.

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