NEWS30 August 2011

EU data group says behavioural ad guidelines fall short

Europe Government

BRUSSELS— European data protection watchdogs have declared ad industry codes on online behavioural targeting to be insufficient to meet the requirement that web users give “informed consent” before being tracked.

Best practice guidelines drawn up by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe and the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) promote greater notice of behaviourally targeted ads through the use of an icon and linking through to a website that gives people the option to turn off tracking cookies from a host of third-party ad networks.

However, the chairman of the Article 29 Working Party in Brussels, Jacob Kohnstamm, writes that while the mechanism is “welcome and constitutes an improvement to the current situation, it does not meet the requirement to obtain… informed consent” as set out in the EU’s recent e-Privacy directive.

The Working Party has previously stated its view that consent must be given “prior” to the use of cookies. Kohnstamm points out in his letter to IAB Europe and EASA that under their code tracking and serving ads takes place unless people exercise an objection.

He warns: “It cannot be concluded that users who have not objected to being tracked for the purposes of serving behavioural advertising have exercised a real choice… Online behavioural advertising will therefore rely on consent that is, in fact, illusory.”