Exclusive: IAB Europe to release updated consent framework later this year, Google to sign on

  •   February 12, 2019
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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe is incorporating feedback from publishers, including Google, as it preps the latest version its Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) later this year. Google, which has continued to postpone its official alignment with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) consent tool, said it will officially sign on as a recognized TCF vendor after the release.

GDPR requires companies that handle personal data belonging to EU residents to comply with a number of rules, including assurances that the consent it collects is clear, informed and affirmative. Companies found to be in breach of GDPR are fined up to €20 million, or 4 percent of their annual revenue, whichever is higher. IAB Europe’s TCF offers companies a framework through which companies can manage GDPR-approved consent collection.

Since the IAB first introduced its TCF for public comment in March 2018, Google has gone back and forth with publishers about whose responsibility it is to collect consent, while working with IAB on revisions before officially adopting the framework.

What Google said. On Monday, Google once again gave assurances that it plans to adopt the framework.

“Google supports IAB Europe’s Transparency & Consent Framework that will help publishers large and small to comply with the requirements of GDPR,” a Google spokesperson said. “We have signed the contract with IAB Europe to join the Framework and are working with the IAB to integrate as quickly as we can.”

What IAB said. Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe, told MarTech Today exclusively that the updated framework will be launched later this year, and will incorporate new tech and policy features.

“Google is actively contributing to the different TCF work-tracks, both on the IAB Europe and the IAB Tech Lab sides, and have said they will announce the timing of their integration once Version 2.0 of the TCF is out in the market,” Feehan said.

Feehan said that the IAB Europe and IAB Tech Lab have been incorporating feedback from other European publishers into its new TCF release to “accommodate requests for more granular controls and more complete accommodation of the ‘legitimate interests’ legal basis.”

Feehan also pointed out that publishers can currently gather consent for Google alongside the consent they obtain for TCF vendors on the Global Vendor List (GVL), although they can’t use the framework to signal to Google that they have done so.

“This is easy and does not require the installation of an additional CMP (consent management platform) or undermine the utility of the TCF CMP,” said Feehan. “The TCF CMP merely needs to distinguish Google as a non-GVL vendor in its consent UI. Publishers will need to ensure they record and communicate the relevant consent(s) to Google in accordance with Google’s EU User Consent Policy.”

The back story. Consent collection under GDPR has been a challenge for Google. The global powerhouse initially tried to assign the task to publishers, saying it considered those using its ad-serving platform, DoubleClick for Publishers, to be “co-controllers,” a stance that caused angry publishers to push back.

Google then announced that it had refashioned its ad-blocker monetization tool, Funding Choices, as a consent management solution, but that still remains in beta. And a self-imposed August 2018 deadline came and went without any action, while Google reached an interim solution with its publishers to gather consent.

In January, Google was slapped with a 50 million euro penalty ($56.8 million) for not being sufficiently transparent about the use of personal information and not obtaining specific consent for ad-targeting purposes under GDPR.

Why you should care. An agreement between Google and the IAB Europe on a standard should signal a way forward for the greater digital advertising ecosystem — publishers, advertisers, ad tech vendors — to handle consent under GDPR. It may also form a template for consent processes in other jurisdictions that pass similar privacy measures, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. Signing onto the revised TCF would indicate that Google believes it is GDPR-compliant.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.