What is it?
Privacy is difficult to define as it is fluid. It is a concept that means different things to different people - and even the same person in different contexts. You may happily set your NestCam to record your every move whilst at home, but prefer not to share your Strava exercise results on social media.
That being said, the very real concerns over privacy throughout the digital industry and particularly within advertising should be taken seriously. Advertising is effective when it is trusted. The industry, therefore, has an incentive to go beyond legal requirements to ensure people are comfortable with the way their data is used as the basis for a mutually beneficial relationship.
In terms of digital advertising, privacy relates to how data is collected and used to deliver and measure advertising and is managed both by industry self-regulation and by legislation.
The two main legal frameworks are the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2011, known as the ‘cookie law’ (though it covers more than just cookies). Both of these are due to change in 2018.
Who does it affect?
Privacy issues impact everyone within the digital ecosystem, including consumers themselves, as well as being a key concern for national and international governments and policy-makers. If data is misused to target an ad, this can have a detrimental impact on the advertiser, tech vendor and publisher, with fines even possible.
A free and open internet relies on advertising revenues, and advertising depends on trust, so it is important that the entire value chain takes a serious approach to privacy and builds privacy good practice into the product cycle.
How is the IAB working with industry to address this?
IAB UK, in partnership with other advertising and media trade bodies, has published Europe-wide good practice guidelines, to support companies within the advertising value chain with the aim of giving people greater transparency and control over the data collected and used in behavioral or interest-based advertising. This was extended in 2016 to cover ads in mobile environments.
At the heart of this work is the AdChoices icon, which appears on or around digital ads and links to www.youronlinechoices.eu. The site has helpful advice, privacy tips and a control page that enables people to find out more about the information that is being collected and used, as well as manage their interests or turn off interest-based advertising all together.
The EU initiative is backed up by robust compliance and enforcement including a pan-European trust seal to demonstrate compliance to ad supply chain partners. The initiative is aligned with the US and Canada, creating a global approach for both businesses and consumers and has strong political support, including from the UK Government.
IAB UK has published a number of articles, briefing documents and fact sheets for its members on privacy regulation and how it applies to the digital advertising ecosystem.
When will things change?
A major change to privacy regulation and the use of personal data will happen on 25th May 2018 when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, replacing the Data Protection Act. More information on the changes and what they mean for digital advertising is available in our GDPR Q&A and GDPR briefing.
The ‘cookie law’ is also changing. A new ePrivacy Directive is being introduced at EU level and is likely to have a significant impact on the digital advertising industry. It proposes a browser-based approach to obtaining consent to use any technologies for processing data – including cookies – instead of the publisher site notices currently used. The European Commission want this new legislation to come into effect at the same time as the GDPR (May 2018). This timetable may not be feasible as the proposal is very controversial.
Where can I find out more?