IAA Privacy Principles for the Advertising Industry

The International Advertising Association (IAA) serves as the global compass for the marketing and advertising industry. It is the only advertising industry association whose membership is both global in scope and cross-industry.


The IAA’s membership consists of over 4,000 brands, publishers, advertising agencies, tech platforms, and academic institutions across 56 countries and 6 continents. Through its advocacy, educational efforts, and collaboration with stakeholders from government, industry, and NGOs, the IAA’s Public Policy Council works to support the development of a regulatory environment that both protects consumers and allows businesses to thrive.

One of the most important and pressing consumer protection issues that legislators are facing today is how to adequately protect consumer privacy. Well-crafted legislation can provide not only the protection consumers need and deserve, but can allow for a robust advertising ecosystem that provides great benefits to both industry and consumers alike. When considering privacy legislation that may impact the advertising industry, the IAA believes that policymakers should consider the following core principles.


Advertising supports an open, free web. Legislation should balance the interests consumers have in protecting their privacy with the benefits they receive from an advertising-supported internet.


Legislation should give consumers transparency and choice regarding the use of their data. Outright prohibitions on advertising can create inflexible standards, stifle innovation, and deprive consumers of choice.


With increasing globalization, legislation should focus on supporting the development of strong, clear, and consistent global standards that can be adopted around the world, instead of local standards. A patchwork of differing standards creates confusion for, and imposes unnecessary burdens on, both consumers and businesses.


Legislation should be narrowly tailored to address the specific harms that have been identified, and should be a proportionate response to those specific identified harms, taking into account the impact that new regulation will have both on consumers and the economy. Legislators should avoid overly broad regulation, which may have unintended consequences that may unduly hinder economic growth. Prohibiting tracking technologies, for example, may impact not only personalized advertising, but the measurement of all online advertising and the development of new products and services that benefit consumers.


Not all data, or all data uses, are the same. When considering obligations regarding the collection and use of data, legislation should clearly define the types of data covered, and should take into account all of the relevant factors, including the type and sensitivity of data, who is collecting the data, how that data will be used, and the benefits and risks of the data use.


Legislation should focus on providing remedies that are related to the actual damages resulting from the misuse of data, rather than theoretical harms. A technical violation that did not result in damage to consumers should not be treated the same as a willful violation that causes significant, measurable consumer harm.


Legislation should take into account longstanding and well-established self-regulatory initiatives (including self-harbor programs) and should incentivize the continued use and development of those initiatives to keep pace with technology and changing consumer expectations.


Legislation should be flexible enough to allow for innovation and to accommodate rapidly changing technologies and evolving needs.


To the extent not already addressed by other applicable laws, legislation should prohibit companies from using consumer data to unlawfully discriminate against consumers.

IAA London