IAB Europe ad consent ‘Action Plan’ approved after legal battle

Breakthrough means that a key component of how ad tracking in Europe is handled could soon be getting some much needed clarity.

The Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) has approved the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe’s (IAB) action plan with respect to its Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF).

Back in 2019, the Belgian DPA started an investigation into IAB Europe after receiving several complaints regarding its consent solution TCF. 

What is the TCF?

First set up in 2016, then revised in 2019, The TCF aims to standardise how businesses — publishers and ad tech vendors predominantly, but also agencies — can continue running programmatic advertising on the open exchange in a way that is compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”).

This would involve measures that prevent vendors from misusing data such as personally sensitive information within programmatic bid requests.

Following an investigation the authority imposed a €250,000 fine on IAB Europe in February 2022, for several infringements of the GDPR. The Belgian DPA also ordered the trade body to submit an action plan within two months for the implementation of several corrective measures. 

The authority subsequently postponed the validation of IAB Europe’s action plan, pending the appeal before the Belgian Market Court.

A big step forward

Now the Belgian DPA has formally approved IAB Europe’s action plan and IAB Europe has a maximum of six months to implement the proposed measures. 

The Belgian DPA indicated that it will not further comment on the content of the action plan due to pending court proceedings.

Responding to the new validation of the action plan, IAB Europe released a statement

Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe,said: “The validation of IAB Europe’s action plan confirms the legality of the TCF as a standard that can help digital publishers and their partners comply with certain provisions of the GDPR and ePrivacy Directive. 

“However, it is important to bear in mind that implementation of the action plan – which IAB Europe is now being required to effect over a period of six months – would entail operating changes for TCF participants that may ultimately be found inadequate by the European Court,”  Feehan added. 

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