Advertising industry pushes back on proposed changes to Australian privacy law
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Australia’s largest industry association for digital advertisers, has released a statement pushing back against aspects of proposed changes to the country’s regulations governing targeted advertising and data collection. Australia’s privacy law, the Privacy Act 1988, is undergoing much-needed modernization to reflect the modern internet and device landscape.
The Australian government explored changes to privacy law in a working paper that was closed for submissions recently after a long period of government back-and-forth that began in 2020. The industry of advertising would like regulations to remain flexible enough to allow “” the collection of data, a “tech neutral” posture and rules no stronger than those in force in the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Advertising industry takes unsurprising stances on Australia’s privacy law
One of the central points attacked by the IAB was the concept of “consent fatigue,” or consumers are fed up with endless notification banners on every website, even if it is meant to protect their personal information. This issue has already surfaced in the EU, but has also become a line among some in the UK government seeking to loosen data protection regulations to woo more companies.
The IAB also called for privacy regulations that do not restrict “legitimate data practices that support the digital economy,” a technology-neutral approach that can be adapted to changing privacy practices. data over time, and rules that do not put the country at a competitive disadvantage. . On this last point, he specifically called for regulations not to be stricter than comparable conditions already in place in the EU and the UK; the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the very similar variant of GDPR in the UK.
One of the main aims of the Australian privacy law review was to refine the definition of “personal information”, which was established before the internet was commonly available. When online identifiers and metadata come into play, Australian courts generally refer to a long tangle of case law established since then to try to determine what to do depending on the situation. The government is seeking to specifically define metadata and online identifiers as a protected category of personal information.
Another concept in the proposed Australian Privacy Act that directly affects the fortunes of the advertising industry is establishing “fair and reasonable” terms for the collection and use of personal data. The legislation seems to center this on the expectations of end users about the fair and reasonable use of the data that has been collected, which the advertising industry is asking for immediate detailed guidance to avoid some of the similar confusion created at the start of the GDPR Implementation (for example, when the user’s consent takes precedence over the “pub test” of the reasonable use of the information collected).
The IAB also opposed default “pro-privacy” settings, called for a limited “right to object” similar to those found in EU and UK GDPRs, wants location information not be included in the category of protected personal information, and quibbled with the proposed change of the term “de-identification” to “anonymization”.
How much weight will marketers have in the debate?
The IAB tried to back up its case by pointing out that online advertising is a big business and a growing market in Australia, worth $11.4 billion in 2021 and expected to grow by 5.5% by 2025. He also touted the benefits of ad-supported “free” services. to Australians. The IAB has some influence in the country, with tech giants such as Amazon and Google, as well as major media companies such as NBCUniversal and CBS Interactive. It remains to be seen what influence they will have on the direction of Australian privacy law reform.
Other industry groups have made their own contributions to the Australian Privacy Law Discussion Paper. The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), the main lobby for video games, wanted to see a flexible framework that allowed its free games to continue to thrive as a business model. On the other side of the debate, the Consumer Policy Research Center (CPRC) has applauded default setting requirements in favor of privacy and sought to impose even more accountability on companies that engage in privacy. collection of personal data.
A final report on Australian privacy law reform is due out now that all of this discussion feedback has been collected, and the government will then choose which reforms to enact next. One issue that has not been raised in the digital marketing industry’s response is the proposed fines and penalties, which should be significantly increased from those currently provided: “serious or repeated” violations could cost companies up to A$10 million or 10% of the organization’s annual turnover in the 12 month period preceding the incident.