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EU: IAB Europe notified by Belgian DPA of draft finding of GDPR infringements

The Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe ('IAB Europe') announced, on 5 November 2021, that it had been informed by the Belgian Data Protection Authority ('Belgian DPA') that its Litigation Chamber is close to finalising a draft ruling that will conclude its investigation of IAB Europe and its role in the Transparency & Consent Framework ('TCF'). In particular, IAB Europe outlined that it had been informed that the draft ruling will identify infringements of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) ('GDPR') by IAB Europe, specifically pertaining to the use of TCF 'TC Strings', the digital signals created on websites to capture data subjects' choices about the processing of their personal data for digital advertising, content, and measurement.

More specifically, IAB Europe outlined that the Belgian DPA's draft ruling is expected to consider TC Strings as personal data under the GDPR and IAB Europe as a joint controller for such data. IAB Europe further outlined that the draft ruling is therefore expected to find it to have breached certain controller obligations under the GDPR, which IAB explained it had not fulfilled based on the fact that it had not considered itself to be a data controller in the context of the TCF.

Furthermore, IAB Europe noted that draft ruling is expected to be shared with other data protection authorities in the coming two to three weeks under the cooperation procedure laid down in the GDPR, and that depending on the outcome of their review, the Belgian DPA may adopt a final ruling or the matter may be referred to the European Data Protection Board ('EDPB') for a binding decision. Additionally, IAB Europe outlined that the draft ruling is expected to find that the identified infringements should be capable of being remedied within six months following the issuing of the final ruling, in a process that would involve the Belgian DPA overseeing the execution of an agreed action plan by IAB Europe.

In addition, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties ('ICCL'), which coordinated the complaint leading to the initiation of the proceedings, also released a statement, on the same day, on the Belgian DPA's imminent draft ruling. 

You can read IAB Europe's press here and the ICCL's press release here.