Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s information commissioner, has penned a piece on the adtech market, warning against unlawful behavior.
Adtech has becoming an increasingly controversial business model. No longer content to simply offer and sell goods or services for a fair price, companies have built entire businesses around treating their customers as the product, mining every last bit of data about them — whether they like it or not. Some companies are pushing back with privacy-oriented services, such as Apple’s App Tracking Transparency or DuckDuckGo’s App Tracking Protection for Android.
Denham is throwing her weight into the dispute, calling out the adtech market for unlawful behavior that doesn’t take consumer choice and privacy into account.
As organisations continue to evolve their proposals, the Commissioner believes that market participants should develop solutions that are focused on the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual. These should move away from intrusive tracking technologies that may continue to pose risks and struggle to comply with the law.
While Denham acknowledges there are multiple ways to address the issues moving forward, she emphasizes that any path forward must be a departure from current practices.
Participants should note that continued use of intrusive online tracking practices is not the right way to develop solutions. Anything that essentially results in a continuation of existing practices will not meaningfully change the status quo.
Industry must recognise the need for change. It should understand that the Commissioner does not advocate for alternatives that use the same fundamentally flawed approaches.
It’s refreshing to see an official take such a strong stance against an industry that has devolved into near-parasite practices that ignore the privacy and security of its users.