The Article 29 Working Party has again told two online advertising groups, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (“IAB”) and the European Advertising Standards Alliance (“EASA”), that their proposed code of conduct for data tracking was still unsuitable as it failed to satisfy the requirements of EU privacy laws, and suggested adoption of the standards unveiled by the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”). The proposed code had already been criticized in December 2011, after which the Working Party issued recommendations in January 2012.

The code itself calls for self-regulation by the Internet advertising industry in the area of behavioural advertising, as well as participation in a pan-European website that gives users access to information regarding online advertising. The IAB and EASA implemented only a few of the Working Party’s recommendations. In a press release issued by EASA, they maintained that the code “goes beyond what any law has historically required in terms of transparency and control”. However, the Working Party held that the changes did not go far enough, and the current approach taken by the code of conduct “does not meet the consent and information requirements of the revised e-Privacy Directive”.

The Working Party encouraged the IAB and the EASA to consider the W3C standards unveiled last November, as the W3C is considered a leading international Internet standards group and includes employees of Apple Inc. and the Federal Trade Commission. The W3C plans to adopt a global Do Not Track (“DNT”) mechanism in June 2012, which the Working Party has assumed will give users “an active and informed choice” about whether their web activity should be tracked, and is seen by the Working Party as a very efficient way of dealing with user content.

The Working Party encouraged the IAB and the EASA to incorporate elements of the DNT mechanism into their code, and to present the code again to the Working Party for approval.