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Information Commissioner’s Officer sets out new data protection standards

The Information Commissioner’s Office set out clear data protection standards on Thursday that firms must meet in order to safeguard people’s privacy online when developing new advertising technologies.
The privacy standards published in a Commissioner’s Opinion were designed to serve as a warning to companies designing new methods of online advertising, with the firms now required to comply with data protection laws and stop their “excessive collection” and usage of people’s data.

The ICO has been working with the Competition and Markets Authority to review how Google’s planned Privacy Sandbox, which aims to replace the use of third-party cookies with alternative technologies that still enable targeted digital advertising, will safeguard people’s personal data while, at the same time, supporting the CMA’s mission of ensuring competition in digital markets.

According to the opinion, the ICO stated that companies designing new digital advertising technologies should offer people the ability to receive adverts without tracking, profiling or targeting based on excessive collection of personal information.

Where people choose to share their data, all companies within the adtech supply chain must ensure “meaningful accountability” is put into place and that people are given control over their data and the ability to exercise their information rights.

Additionally, the ICO also said companies should be able to justify that the use of personal data for online advertising was “fair, necessary and proportionate”.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “What we found during our ongoing adtech work is that companies are collecting and sharing a person’s information with hundreds, if not thousands of companies, about what that person is doing and looking at online in order to show targeted ads or content. Most of the time, individuals are not aware that this is happening or have not given their explicit consent. This must change.

“That is why we want to influence current and future commercial proposals on methods for online advertising early on, so that the changes made are not just window dressing, but actually give people meaningful control over their personal data.”

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