Class action lawsuit for online behavioural advertising practices!

Class action lawsuit for online behavioural advertising practices!

Shock Headline!

Telecoms Company sued for $750 million for invasion of privacy for Online Behavioural Advertising

Reality Check - It's true. It's a Canadian lawsuit. Nothing has been decided or ruled upon yet.

It is complex and it's not just about OBA, cookies and advertising. As with the recent Vidal-Hall Vs Google case, there's clearly a growing sentiment that "enough is enough", you can't make vast sums of money trading personal data when you never asked permission in the first case. The Vidal-Hall case in essence paved the way for individuals to claim damages for the misuse of their personal information, even when there was no financial loss suffered. Rummaging around in my PC, setting and reading cookies, and creating a profile of me for marketing purposes, was considered misuse of personal data. And I can sue you!

This Canadian case is very similar, and is another WAKE UP CALL for marketers that you are going to have to ask people nicely if you want to 'stalk' them on line.

Why did Bell get into trouble?

They created profiles under an advertising program for each customer with detailed personal information including internet usage, gender, age, credit status, and payment habits. This information was then compiled and sold to third-party advertisers for use in marketing campaigns.

So what do digital marketers have to do?

Curb your desire for ever greater granularity. Document your Privacy by Design methodology. Get consent. The Canadians call it EXPRESS consent, the Europeans EXPLICIT consent. It's the same thing. A positive, signifying action from someone who has a genuine choice to take part or not, and who is fully informed as to the consequences of their actions.

In the UK we are currently relying on implied consent to carry out this sort of activity, as endorsed by the UK ICO, I suspect this will come under the spotlight in the next 12 months.

For the detail people, here are links to the full reports:

Results of Commissioner Initiated Investigation into Bell’s Relevant Ads Program

Canadian Government policy position on online behavioural advertising

Vidal Hall Vs Google Court of Appeal ruling

Information Commissioner cookie guidance