International Privacy Policy Reform Activity Calls for a Global Framework

IAB Canada’s State of the Nation panel on international privacy discussed the hyper-active privacy activity that is taking place in virtually every market around the globe.

Townsend Feehan, CEO IAB Europe, described the state of privacy regulation in Europe as a chaotic, complex law on the books but due to inconsistent or non-enforcement, it may effectively lead to more restrictive law on top of the GDPR. Tensions are evident across different Data Protection Agencies (DPAs) across Europe as countries begin to lean in across borders to criticize case handling. The DPAs are faced with resourcing issues and are struggling to keep up with GDPR-based complaints.

When the TCF launched in 2018, the industry saw a surge in Consent Management Platform (CMP) start-ups. Not surprisingly, Townsend noted some consolidation in the CMP business and expects this to continue.

Townsend stated that Europe remains in the trenches of informed choice and that we collectively need a compelling narrative on privacy for the sustainability of the industry.

Meanwhile, south of the border, Alex Propes, Vice President, Public Policy & International, IAB US expressed concern over the lack of a coordinated framework for individual US state approach to privacy legislation. Alex cited the differences between the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Nevada legislation as a prime example and product of this anemic interstate communication. While the US is anticipating more state laws to pass, there are continued efforts to encourage a template for cross state laws through the Uniform Law Commission.

Adam Kardash, Partner, Privacy and Data Management, Co-Lead, Access Privacy, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP discussed the anticipated amendments to PIPEDA. Adam spoke of the huge shrapnel impact that the GDPR has had in Canada. We will most likely see something in the fall that resembles EU legislation with refinements for Canada.

Adam also discussed the significance of the recent privacy legislation amendments proposed to the Quebec Privacy Statutory Regime which would introduce severe monetary penalties, statutory damages, a security incident reporting regime, new statutory rights, and a range of other amendments affecting private sector organizations. The proposed amendments underscore the importance of working towards a standardized global framework that would mitigate enormous costs to compliance and complexity for all industry stakeholders and citizens alike.

The panel agreed in its final analysis, that the industry is ready to develop a global privacy framework that can easily be adapted to the various nuances outlined in local jurisdictions. The term “interoperability” came up several times in this discussion as well as the preceding one from IAB Tech Lab while describing the requirements the industry is currently working towards at lightning speed.

The state of privacy discussion was brought full circle in a fireside chat with Matthias Matthiesen, Senior Privacy Counsel, Quantcast. Matthias played an instrumental role in the development of the TCF framework for Europe. Reflecting on how to address the current urgency towards reforms, Matthias explained that because of the nature of our industry and its complex network of supply chains, we can only solve technical issues if we pull in the same direction and address them systematically. Matthias expressed concern of the varying interpretations of what “adequacy” might look like across the supply chain. The reality he stated, was that at the core, we must build off a citizen-first platform. There are still too many bad actors that are finding loopholes and workarounds to compliance and in his view, this is contributing to added restrictive regulatory activity at best, and an existential threat to the industry at worst.

It’s a change or die situation at this point and we must accept the challenge of radical re-imagination of our industry as opposed to building thin veneers that will inevitably result in compounded citizen disappointment. It was notable throughout the discussion that there is enormous potential for innovation.