No ‘silver bullet’ solution for data use as ad industry awaits outcome of Privacy Act review

The Australian Government’s ongoing review of the Privacy Act 1998 is currently in the stage of reviewing submissions, having been announced as part of a response to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry.

Following consultations and a review of submissions, there will be a discussion paper released later in 2021, seeking more specific feedback on preliminary outcomes, including any possible options for reform.

Submissions include that made by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), which outlines the need for reform to build, and rebuild, public trust.

The December submission said that while the Privacy Act 1998 remains a “well-established framework”, change is needed as a result of transformations to the external landscape and a desire by Australians for more to be done to protect their privacy.

It recommended fairness standards for the collection and use of data, organisational accountabilities for entities, and a greater emphasis on the protection of individuals.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said these issues need to be addressed if Australia’s data-driven economy is to continue functioning in a fair and balanced way.

“The community has a clear interest in organisations and government using data responsibly to innovate and provide services, but at the same time their personal information needs to be handled reasonably and fairly,” she said.

“Strong data protection and privacy rights are a precondition for consumer confidence and economic growth, and effective and proportionate privacy regulation is essential to achieving these mutual benefits.

“When regulated entities have a clear framework that sets out their personal information handling responsibilities, they will be able to operate and innovate with confidence.

“Equally, when Australians have clear privacy rights and trust that their personal information is protected, they will feel confident to engage in the data-driven economy and to access services.”

In the lead up to the release of the discussion paper, the digital ad industry is preparing for tighter restrictions and the continued demise of cookies.

Georgia Brammer, regional director JPAC for leading independent ad server Flashtalking, tells Mumbrella there is no “silver bullet” for marketers to solve issues of data privacy.

“Data privacy continues to be a major talking point for the global advertising industry – cited as the driving factor behind policy shifts from the big digital platforms, and ultimately leading to the demise of the third-party cookie,” she says

“There is, of course, a need to answer genuine consumer privacy concerns, while also recognising the need for targeted advertising – both to enable content creators to monetise and to authorise marketers to deliver tailored experiences for the consumer.”

Brammer believes the industry needs to work towards only using consumer data which is willingly provided.

“Although alternatives to the cookie are being put forward – such as authenticated traffic solutions, open source ID frameworks and decentralised systems – looking for a single  ‘silver bullet’ solution is a dangerous line of thinking for marketers. Instead, the industry should look towards collaboration, in order to build an independent, interoperable digital ecosystem, based on first-party data.

“This will mean that only consumer data that is willingly provided will be accessed, while advertisers and publishers would be reliably sustained and no longer solely conditioned to a single ‘solve’ or cookie alternative.”

More information on the Review of the Privacy Act 1998 available here.


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