IAB UK statement as ICO resumes RTB investigation


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has resumed its work investigating data protection compliance in ad tech and real-time bidding (RTB), focusing on audits of ‘digital market platforms’ and reviewing the role of data brokers 

Having paused its investigation back in May 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICO has today stated that it has resumed its work relating to data protection compliance in ad tech and RTB. While the ICO put its ongoing work in this area on hold last year, it made clear that the industry had more to do to address the concerns originally set out in the ICO’s 2019 ‘Update report into adtech and real time bidding’ and that the pause in its work to consider its regulatory response to these issues was temporary.  

Throughout last year, we at the IAB have continued to work closely with our members to deliver on the actions laid out in the six-point plan that we issued in response to the ICO’s report, aimed at educating the industry about their obligations and how to comply with them in practice. So far we’ve produced practical guidance on cookies and consentspecial category data and, most recently, data protection impact assessments. We are currently continuing to explore how to help companies identify and mitigate risks relating to special category data in practice and will soon be releasing guidance on legitimate interests assessments. We have made good progress, yet there is more to do. 

The news that the ICO will be imminently returning to its work in this area does not alter our plans and all companies involved in RTB need to be actively engaging with the resources available and implementing their obligations in practice. It’s crucial that, as an industry, we can demonstrate the progress that has been made.  

Further to this point, we will be hosting a member-only briefing to recap on what has been achieved so far and what to expect next. More details to follow. 

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