IAB Europe welcomes decision to refer TCF ruling to the European Court of Justice

The Belgian Market Court has referred the Belgian Data Protection Authority’s (APD) ruling on IAB Europe and the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) to the European Court of Justice. IAB Europe has welcomed the decision, saying the referral will provide clarity on GDPR classifications that enable standard-setting organisations to develop GDPR codes of conduct. It follows the ruling in February from the Belgian APD that IAB Europe and the Transparency and Consent Framework were in breach of GDPR.  

In its interim ruling, the Market Court has decided to refer preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on how the concept of data controllership in the GDPR as it pertains, in this case, is to be interpreted and on whether a TC String (a digital signal containing user preferences) can be considered as “personal data” under the GDPR. The referral to the CJEU means that a final judgement by the Market Court is unlikely until 2023 or possibly 2024.

Welcoming the Market Court’s decision to seek guidance from the CJEU, Townsend Feehan, IAB Europe’s CEO, said: “The interpretation of the notions of personal data and controllership embraced by the APD is unnecessarily broad from a consumer protection point of view and has significant negative implications for the development of open standards and the Codes of Conduct foreseen in the GDPR. It would place an unacceptable financial burden on host organisations, discouraging the development of these important compliance tools.”