IAB Europe appeals Belgian Data Protection Authority's TCF ruling

David Murphy

IAB Europe CEO, Townsend Feehan

IAB Europe has submitted an appeal and request to the Brussels Market Court to suspend enforcement on the Belgian Data Protection Authority (APD) ruling about the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF).

Last month, the APD published its ruling on IAB Europe and its role in the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF). It stated that IAB Europe is a data controller of the TC String (the digital signals created to capture data subjects’ choices on how their personal data can be processed), which the APD considers to be personal data. The Authority fined IAB Europe €250,000 for being in violation of the GDPR and mandated changes to the TCF.

IAB Europe disputes the allegation that it acts as a controller for the recording of TC Strings, and as a joint controller for the dissemination of TC Strings and other data processing done by TCF participants under the OpenRTB protocol.

IAB Europe’s appeal, filed before the Market Court in Belgium (part of the Brussels Court of Appeal), includes a request for suspension of the execution of the decision, which would pause all orders of the APD until a decision on the merits is rendered by the Market Court. 

“Immediate enforcement of the decision would deny an appeal of its relevance and effectiveness, and would have irreversible and serious consequences for our organisation,” said IAB Europe CEO, Townsend Feehan, CEO. “Eliminating the grounds on which the APD considers IAB Europe to be a data controller would reduce the TCF to a mere open-source standard without enforceable policies. Paradoxically, this would render ineffective the consumer protection objective that underlies the APD’s jurisdiction, and the apparent reason for which proceedings against IAB Europe exist. We do not believe this is the aim of the law, nor that self-regulatory standards should be weakened because of a misguided interpretation of the law. This is why we are challenging the decision.”

IAB Europe said it will communicate on the outcome of the request for suspension in the next few weeks.