Watchdog Brings Complaint In Europe Against IAB TechLab Over Privacy

The watchdog Irish Council for Civil Liberties alleges in a complaint filed in Germany that the IAB Tech Lab's standards relating to real-time bidding violate Europe's broad data privacy laws.

In its 175-page complaint, the civil rights group essentially alleges that a content taxonomy created by the IAB Tech Lab includes sensitive categories, such as people's health status or physical locations.

The real-time bidding system “broadcasts intimate data about us as we use websites and apps, including things like what you are reading or watching or listening to, inferences about your sexual preferences, religious faith, ethnicity, health conditions, your political views, and where you physically are - sometimes right up to your GPS coordinates,” the Irish Council states on its website.

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The group adds that real-time bidding data also includes ID codes that enable companies to create “very intimate profiles ... including parts of your life that you do not intend to put on the record.”

Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow at the Irish Council, has previously raised similar concerns with other EU privacy regulators.

A spokesperson for the IAB Tech Lab said Wednesday that the group hasn't yet been served with the new complaint. “We will review the allegations in conjunction with our legal advisers and, if appropriate, will respond in due course,” the spokesperson said.

The ad organization said in 2019, in response to prior criticism by privacy advocates, that its content taxonomy and real-time bidding protocol enable companies “to categorize editorial content, provide relevant advertising, protect brand and consumer safety, and more.”

The industry group added at the time that its protocols -- including its content taxonomy and OpenRTB -- aren't subject to Europe's GDPR.

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