Transparency and Consent Framework for Canada (TCF Canada): impact on marketing professionals

Can you believe that the number of individuals using the World Wide Web daily is still increasing, knowing how popular and widely available the Internet is today?

Therefore, digital advertising is currently one of the most popular ways to promote various goods and services. New practices call for new legal regulation as the digital advertising industry develops and as ad viewers and other market players start to wonder about the privacy of this method of communicating with people online.

What does the IAB stand for?

IAB Canada recently announced the release of the Transparency and Consent Framework for Canada (TCF Canada), a set of technical specifications and documents designed to help the digital marketing industry communicate effectively with its end users and empower the use of their data (and the exercise of privacy rights related to the protection of personal data by viewers of adverts).

IAB is a well-known abbreviation in the world of digital advertising. The IAB stands for “Interactive Advertising Bureau” and was founded in 1996 as the national representative of the interactive marketing industry.

Although we will focus on IAB Canada in this article, there is a similar regional representation in Europe. Moreover, since 2018, IAB Ukraine has had its own representative office in Ukraine. In total, the IAB Global Network unites 45 IAB organizations around the world.

As for Canada, this organization represents more than 250 Canadian advertisers, advertising agencies, media companies, etc.

TCF Canada: what impact will it have on marketing specialists?

The Transparency and Consent Framework for Canada is based on a document comparable to the one created to comply with European Union law, but of course, taking Canadian legislation into account (the Federal Personal Information and Protection Electronic Documents Act, British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act, Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act, Quebec’s An act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector). 

Canadian TCF is created “by the industry for the industry”. It is a “guide” for website owners, technology providers, agencies, advertisers, and digital marketers to comply with the law on processing personal data.

A strong point of the TCF is implementing the data subject’s right to information about the processing. When the vendors register in the program, they must indicate what data and for what purposes they will process. All TCF members are listed on the website and include their TCF system number in advertising bid requests and responses. After two years of development, TCF Canada’s published document consists of TCF Canada Policy, TCF Canada Terms & Conditions, and Transparency and Consent String with Global Vendor List Format. As stated in the TCF Canada Policy:

The Transparency and Consent Framework consists of a set of technical specifications and policies to which publishers, advertisers, technology providers, and others for whom the Framework is of interest may voluntarily choose to adhere.

The Transparency and Consent Framework consists of a set of technical specifications and policies to which publishers, advertisers, technology providers, and others for whom the Framework is of interest may voluntarily choose to adhere.

Firstly, it is essential to note the concepts often used in this act. For instance, it is worth mentioning the “Transparency and Consent Management Platform” (“Consent Management Platform” or “CMP”). This concept means the company or organization that centralizes and manages transparency for consent and revocations of the end user’s consent. As stated in the TCF Canada Policy: 

CMP may be the party that surfaces, usually on behalf of the publisher, the UI to a user, though that may also be another party. CMPs may be private or commercial. A private CMP means a Publisher that implements its own CMP for its own purposes. A commercial CMP offers CMP services to other parties.

You can see the CMP as a banner with information about the site’s intention to provide and enable data collection using cookies.

The concept of “Publisher” is also found in the TCF Canada Policy – the party primarily responsible for providing the user interface and permission for Providers who may process personal data based on users’ visits to the online resource. These are usually the sites and web pages on which you see advertisements.

In the Transparency and Consent Framework, “Vendor” means a company that participates in the delivery of digital advertising within a Publisher’s website, app, or other digital content, to the extent that the company is not acting as a Publisher or CMP and that either access an end user’s device or collects, uses, or discloses personal information about end users visiting the Publisher’s content and adheres to the Policies. Companies that run an exchange for trading bets and acceptances, as well as intermediary advertisers’ and publishers’ companies, fall under this category.

As defined in the section on the managing purposes and permissions (i.e., the permissions of ad viewers to set a particular cookie on their browser and collect information about them – their interests, age, history of viewed content, etc.), the CMP will remind the user of their right to withdraw consent for the collection, use, or disclosure of their personal data at least every 18 months. 

The TCF Canada Policy also contains a list of purposes for personal data processing, Vendor guidance, and legal and user-friendly text for each purpose of collecting (processing, and using) personal data.

For example, for “selecting personalized advertising,” the Vendor may use data based on the user’s profile or other historical user data, including a user’s last activity, interests, visits to sites or apps, location, or demographic information. The following user-friendly text, “Personalized ads can be shown to you based on a profile about you,” may be used to inform users. The purposes of processing personal data and possible permission forms the user can provide are outlined for the Vendor.

Therefore, the Transparency and Consent Framework Canada was created to help all parties in the digital advertising chain comply with Canadian data protection legislation when processing online users’ personal data. Participation in this program is voluntary, but It can be beneficial for companies to join forces in aspects that are traditionally difficult for compliance: a collection of consents (or consent of data subjects to cookies and the display of targeted advertising), the correct selection of the legal basis, the realization of the rights to information about third parties, that have access to personal data about an individual.



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