GDPR one year on: IAB offers new privacy guidelines for advertisers

Apr 26, 2019 | Ads, Regulation

Trade body IAB has updated its technical specifications for a GDPR-related framework aimed at helping advertisers, brands and technology providers comply with the European Union’s privacy laws, introduced last year.

The guidelines, created in partnership with IAB Tech Lab, called the ‘Policies and Technical Specifications for v2.0 of the Transparency; Consent Framework (TCF v2.0)’ are now available for public comment.

The public comment period will last 30 days, until 25th May 2019.

The first iteration of the TCF was launched exactly one year ago, on 25th April 2018, to enable the digital advertising ecosystem to comply with certain obligations under the GDPR and ePrivacy Directive.

It is the largest industry collaboration of its kind and the only compliance solution that was built by the industry, for the industry. The TCF provides a common framework to facilitate compliance with these data protection laws for every part of the advertising value chain, from publishers and technology companies through to agencies and advertisers. In addition, the TCF ensures more user transparency and choice about the processing of their personal data.

TCF v2.0 is the product of 12 months of reflection begun in the first half of 2018 in response to feedback from the market and from EU member state data protection authorities (DPAs). The key changes in the new version are even more transparency and control for consumers, greater control for publishers, and enhanced accommodation of the GDPR’s “legitimate interests” legal basis for processing personal data, including the right to object through the TCF, alongside consent. A new, combined transparency and consent string will consolidate all signals.

Users will see an increase in transparency and control in TCF v2.0 through:

  • The expansion of the original five purposes for processing personal data to a more granular twelve, with a new, innovative way to present the increased number of purposes for ease of comprehension.
  • Allowing users to express directly through a TCF Consent Management Platform (CMP) their “right to object” to a vendor processing their personal data on the basis of legitimate interest. Previously, RTO was handled outside of the TCF.
  • More controls over whether and how vendors may use certain features of data processing, including the use of precise geolocation data.
  • Publishers will gain greater control and flexibility with respect to how they integrate and collaborate with their technology partners. New “publisher restrictions” will enable them to restrict the purposes for which personal data is processed on a publisher’s site by vendors on a per-vendor basis.
  • By more clearly delineating different processing activities, vendors can more easily select the appropriate legal basis for their processing activities and publishers can exercise more granular control. By enhancing the TCF’s signals in a way that communicates vendor disclosure, or whether the user has objected to processing – independent of the soliciting and collection of user consent – TCF v2.0 more seamlessly facilitates lawful and transparent processing on the basis of legitimate interests.

Reflecting on the scope and timing of the update, Townsend Feehan, CEO, IAB Europe, said “TCF v2.0 is an important evolution of the standard that is forward-thinking from a technology point of view, taking good account of regulatory guidance and market feedback, especially from publishers. An exercise that is this inclusive of course takes time, but the outcome is a robust update that is fit for purpose in an environment of intense regulatory scrutiny.”

“It is vital that we update the framework based on feedback from those adopting or considering TCF, and as regulatory guidance evolves,” said Dennis Buchheim, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “This release allows publishers, advertisers, and their partners to more easily comply with GDPR and also facilitates a better experience for users. We appreciate IAB Tech Lab member contributions and leadership in the development of version 2.0 and look forward to rapid industry adoption once the specifications are finalized.”

This is the first major new TCF release and the only significant one planned for the year. For the next 30 days, up to 25th May, interested stakeholders are invited to review and respond to the proposals before the official launch of TCF v2.0 later this summer.

Following the close of the public comment period, once the technical specifications and Policies have been finalised, detailed implementation manuals will be issued for vendors, publishers and CMPs.

As part of the consultation process, IAB Europe will be holding two webinars to outline the proposed changes on 7th May (Publishers) and 8th May (CMPs and Vendors). To register, and review TCF v.2.0, please visit