The UK authority charged with upholding consumer privacy has concluded that poor data protection practices within the real time bidding market will not improve without regulator involvement.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO and not the crypto kind) is the UK’s authority charged with upholding consumer privacy. Their June 2019 report concluded that without regulator involvement poor data protection practices within digital advertising will continue (aka Real Time Bidding or RTB).

But don’t believe what we say, read it for yourself:

We do not think these issues will be addressed without intervention. We are therefore planning a measured and iterative approach, so that we act decisively and transparently.”

(If you haven’t seen it, you can read our overview of the report in Part 1 of this series here)

The ICO identifies two systemic problems that prevent the RTB market from achieving compliance with increasingly strict privacy laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):

1. A lack of maturity amongst ‘adtech’ firms; and

2. Commercial incentives to share consumer data when selling digital advertising space.

We can summarise this in plainer English: adtech companies don’t know or care about privacy laws and they make more money when they ignore them.

Slow Progress

This glacier is moving faster than the ICO

Despite these conclusions, the ICO's approach is glacial -- or “measured and iterative” -- because it fears that a radical intervention might damage app creators (publishers) who rely on digital ad revenue to survive.

It’s a fair position for a regulator to take; however, it indicates that we will not see a profound improvement of data abuse in the RTB market driven by government institutions for years – if ever.

While we wait for government action to force change, innovation in technology will prove a faster, and more effective, route to protecting consumer privacy. At Glimpse, we are building the future of digital advertising - one that protects and benefits publishers while guaranteeing privacy for the public. We support what this ICO is doing, but we want change now not in 10 years’ time.

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