Global privacy regulators look to collaborate, while telcos get the call to help extend digital identity services

Welcome to the latest edition of Spotlight, Novatiq’s monthly roundup of eye-catching stories from digital marketing and adtech.

What we have for you today: Opportunities for telcos in digital ID services, the globalisation of privacy laws, and the drawbacks of “legitimate interest” when justifying data processing.

Dial I for ID

Mobile telecom operators sit on a wealth of data that can be used broadly, including as an underpinning to digital identity services. The Open Identity Exchange is in fact now calling on ID providers to partner with telcos to offer new digital identity services to boost digital inclusion by using telco data to support people who do not have traditional documents or online banking and non-bank credit accounts.

The broader ID opportunity for telcos is vast. Beyond providing ID services for banking and government services, for example, telcos can leverage their customer information to support verification services for digital marketing, placing them at the heart of digital content and enabling privacy-compliant, personalised advertising at scale.

Privacy laws go global

Such services couldn’t come at a better time. That data privacy laws are proliferating globally is no secret, but what’s also becoming apparent is that regulators are increasingly looking to coordinate and collaborate.

This month, the EC Commissioner for Justice met with the chief of the California agency tasked with overseeing the state’s privacy laws to discuss how the two regimes can be more closely aligned. The aim is to halt regulatory fragmentation and inch towards global standards. A similar story is playing out across Africa, where states are trying to fashion a common law for data protection under the African Union regulatory framework for data privacy.

The message seems clear: the global data privacy regulatory environment is maturing, and firms need to be ready for coordinated oversight across their operations.

Shouldering the regulatory burden

The increase in regulatory oversight is all the more concerning given that so many organisations still appear to be unprepared. This was the headline of new research from international law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, which found that only around a half of executives feel “very prepared” for compliance. This is concerning given the size of the fines regularly meted out for breaches of compliance law, and consumers’ growing willingness to part from brands that fail to take data privacy seriously.

Getting consent right

These executives can perhaps take some heart from the fact that even the largest of tech giants seem to be struggling with the problem. Having been stung by a whopping fine for breach of GDPR earlier this year, Meta is currently looking to shift the basis on which it collects the data of WhatsApp users from its previous “contract” basis (overruled by Ireland’s data protection authority) to one based on “legitimate interest”. The company is also considering the same basis to underpin data collected through its new Threads app.

In our view, no business should consider justifying data collection through “legitimate interest.” The justification cannot be relied on and ignores the most important people in the transfer of data: consumers. A far better approach is to be open and transparent about data collection and to offer consumers a clear value exchange underpinned by a seamless consent mechanism. Doing so ensures compliance beyond any doubt and will help win the trust of consumers.

Google presses ahead with cookie deprecation

Given the years-long “will they, won’t they?” feel to Google’s promise to remove tracking cookies from Chrome, there’s fresh evidence to suggest that the company will this time meet its deadline for cookie deprecation (set for the second half of 2024). The company had just released Chrome 115 and is now readying for the launch of APIs for its Privacy Sandbox. This is important news as it means that adtech companies, marketers, and partners like telcos participating in ID programmes can now move forward with their plans for post-third-party cookie advertising with confidence that it will actually happen.

The MFA crackdown commences

Finally, there’s the welcome news that Magnite, Sharethrough, and PubMatic are blocking made-for-advertising (MFA) sites. MFAs provide a terrible user experience and erode trust in digital advertising and its great news that the industry is working together to see them off. For our part, Novatiq is working with our partners in the advertising ecosystem to protect our users from these sites. We do this by carefully screening for unrecognised websites to ensure that data responses are only delivered to sites associated with legitimate publishers.

More from Novatiq

We’ve just relaunched our website – click here to take a look – we’re excited about the refresh and would love to hear what you think. Our latest blogs are also now online. This month we take a deep dive into how publishers can reinvent their industry for the post third-party cookie era. Check it out.

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