IAB Europe lodges formal request for interim measures in TCF case

Posted on Friday 10 February 2023 | IAB UK

IAB Europe has lodged a formal request with the Belgian Market Court for interim measures in its case with the Belgian Data Protection Authority (APD) regarding the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF)

This follows the decision by the APD to validate the action plan that IAB Europe submitted on 1 April 2022. It was required to submit the action plan following the APD’s decision in February 2022 that stated IAB Europe is a data controller of the TC String, which the APD considers to be personal data. The action plan outlines how IAB Europe, in its capacity as Managing Organisation of the TCF, will deliver on the formal orders laid down in the APD’s decision.

However, validation of the action plan was unexpectedly announced on 11 January 2023, while outstanding points are being examined by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), further to a referral by the Belgian Market Court in September 2022. In that same judgement, the Belgian Market court held that the APD was in breach of its duty of care, which taints the February 2022 decision made by the APD. 

The six month deadline to implement the plan is 11 July 2023 - by which time the CJEU will not have rendered its judgement. For this reason, while it moves forward with various iterations to the TCF that are less directly impacted by the CJEU procedure, IAB Europe is seeking interim measures to prevent the APD from enforcing the execution of changes to the TCF that may need to be rolled back when the CJEU’s ruling is rendered. 

IAB Europe states that this formal request is indispensable as the APD has not shown any clear willingness to engage in dialogue with it following its decision, and seems unlikely to provide guidance between now and 11 July 2023.

"If the European Court finds that IAB Europe is not a (joint) data controller and/or the TC String is not personal data, the steps taken in the action plan that are premised on these findings - steps that will need to be taken by vendors, CMPs and thousands of publishers, in addition to IAB Europe - will have to be rolled back,” noted Townsend Feehan, IAB Europe CEO.  "Companies will have wasted resources and made changes to their business practices, while consumers will be negatively impacted and misled through multiple adjustments."

“The APD’s approval of the action plan in its entirety is an important and welcome confirmation of the legality of the TCF. IAB Europe is moving ahead with positive changes to the TCF that are less impacted by the referral to the CJEU,” continued Feehan. “Pursuing interim measures will allow a serene completion of the remaining legal proceedings on the points that are significantly impacted."

An updated FAQ regarding the TCF can be found on IAB Europe’s website here.

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