IAB Tech Lab tests blockchain-based protocol for personal data privacy

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Tech Lab has announced a blockchain-based protocol that allows companies to track consent users’ personal data.

PrivacyChain, which has been released for public comment and a handful of early pilots, seeks to hand consumers control over the personal information provided to companies using the technology.

If those users choose to opt in, their data will be made available to retailers, and the advertising agencies, publishing partners and exchanges that serve their ads.

While blockchain has been toyed with in digital advertising before, particularly in regards to its potential to add transparency to the murky world of ad-trading, the IAB thinks it can solve a new problem. With companies collecting and updating hundreds of millions of consents a year, it has become “incredibly difficult” to ensure all members of a data supply chain have an up-to-date view of opt ins.

However, the use of blockchain, which effectively provides a shared, immutable and distributed ledger, ensures all of PrivacyChain’s participants have a single, consistent and up-to-date view of a consumer’s opt-ins or opt-outs.

For example, a consumer could use the portal to choose to opt in or out of providing certain information, such as name, gender, email or date of birth, as well as having a clear view and the ability to select which which partners would receive that information. All of these actions would be logged immutably.  

“The digital advertising ecosystem continually innovates to better respond to consumer behaviours and interests,” said Dennis Buchheim, senior vice president and general manager, IAB Tech Lab.

“PrivacyChain is an important part of this evolution. This protocol offers a new approach for listening and responding to consumers preferences. What’s more, it helps members navigate the new world of privacy regulations.”

Indeed, one of the main benefits of the tool is that it provides a standardised solution which can be deployed quickly and simplifies proof of compliance, not just with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), but with those similar policies emerging worldwide, such as California Consumer Privacy Act and Brazil’s Data Protection Law.

Commenting on the roll-out was LiveRamp’s chief data ethics officer, Sheila Colcasure, who said that consent data is “some of the most important data” a company can collect, adding that PrivacyChain offered a “data ethics enabling technology”.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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