In June 2019, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO“) produced a report on the advertising industry’s use of adtech and real time bidding (“RTB“) and whether UK data protection and e-marketing legislation was being complied with. The report criticised parts of the sector for not doing enough to safeguard personal data, but stated that the ICO would give organisations a six-month grace period prior to taking regulatory action, during which time they would work with stakeholders in the industry to ensure that steps were being taken towards compliance.

On the 17 January 2020, in a blog by their Executive Director of Technology and Innovation, Simon McDougall1, the ICO stated that, whilst some stakeholders had engaged positively with them following the publication of June’s report, overall the ICO were not satisfied that enough was being done by the industry and that, as a result of this, they would begin taking formal regulatory action. In this article, we explore the concepts of adtech and RTB, before taking a closer look at some of the potential issues that the ICO have identified surrounding their use, and the possible next steps that the ICO could take.

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