Article 29 Working Party Unimpressed by OBA Industry’s Solutions

December 15, 2011

The Article 29 Working Party held its 83rd plenary meeting on 8 and 9 December 2011 in Brussels and issued a press release thereafter (dated 15 December) in the following terms:

‘As part of the efforts to support a consistent and coherent implementation of the ePrivacy Directive throughout the EU, the Working Party has adopted an opinion on the On-line Behavioural Advertising Self Regulatory Framework proposed by the EASA1 and IAB Europe2.

In the opinion the Working Party welcomes the self-regulatory initiatives of the Industry in the area of behavioural advertising. It concludes however that adherence to the EASA/IAB Code on online behavioural advertising and participation in the website does not result in compliance with the current e-Privacy Directive.

Moreover, the Working Party stresses that the Code and the website create the wrong presumption that it is possible to choose not to be tracked while surfing the Web. This wrong presumption can be damaging to users, but also to the industry if they believe that by applying the Code they meet the requirements of the Directive.

As stated in its earlier opinion on behavioural advertising, the Article 29 WP does not question the economic benefits that behavioural advertising may bring, but it firmly believes that such practices must not be carried out at the expense of individuals’ rights to privacy and data protection. The EU data protection regulatory framework sets forth specific safeguards which must be respected.

The advertising industry needs to comply with the precise requirements of the e-Privacy Directive and the adopted opinion shows that many practical solutions are available to ensure a good level of compliance together with a good user experience.

European data protection authorities have the task to ensure compliance and will, where necessary, enforce on the basis of the law. Therefore a situation in which companies invest in abiding by a code that does not comply with European and national legal requirements, should be avoided.’