By Stephen Lepitak, -

December 16, 2019 | 3 min read

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has promised that “change is coming” to the advertising industry with fast-approaching 20 December deadline marking the end of its six-month consultation process around data handling by ad tech companies.

Speaking to The Drum at its annual Programmatic Punch conference, Simon McDougall, the ICO’s executive director of tech and innovation revealed that there had been a lot of engagement with the community but that it hadn’t been "entirely" consistent. It had also discovered "pockets of immaturity" where the organisation was having to explain "pretty basic concepts" around the workings of privacy and data protection, he said.

McDougall said that a key component of the General Data Protection Regulation​ (GDPR) policy it has looked into is whether companies processing personal data have the resources to handle it. Many organisations were putting "the right resources in" with change being witnessed, he said. But, many organisations playing "catch up with themselves," he said.

“We at the ICO need to keep supporting the industry to make sure that we are there help the industry get better,” he admitted.

McDougall acknowledged that the advertising industry still had work to do with the deadline to sector to implement compliance changes just days away. The proposals set stemmed from work between the ICO, the IAB and Google among others to examine what changes could be made during a se six-month period.

“We are then going to wait and see what the landscape looks like. It’s pretty clear that change needs to happen,” he continued, referencing the processing of data under GDPR.

“Understand that change is going to happen, so see what you need to do,” he advised the industry.

Ahead of the deadline passing later this week, he stressed: “We are not going to ruin Christmas, sadly I don’t have people hidden in the back of a van somewhere ready to carry out dawn raids on 21 December. We are going to look and see what the landscape looks like and consider the next steps. As we go into the new year, we are then going to consider whether the industry has moved enough and has it addressed our concerns. If not, where are the gaps remaining? And then we will decide what to do next.”

Read more of McDougall's comments while speaking at Programmatic Punch in London earlier this month on his experience of implementing data regulation change within advertising.

Watch the full interview with The Drum in the video above.

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