On April 14, 2011, the European Advertising Standards Alliance (“EASA”) and IAB Europe released complementary new self-regulatory standards for online behavioral advertising. This cross-industry initiative is aimed at enhancing European consumers’ control over their data and ensuring transparency, particularly with respect to advertisements that are delivered using third party online behavioral advertising.

The new standards require that companies place an icon on or near website advertisements to provide notice to consumers of online tracking for advertising purposes, and to offer them the opportunity to opt out. Users who click the icon will be directed to a multilingual Europe-wide website offering further information about online behavioral advertising as well as a tool to help manage data preferences, including by turning off online behavioral advertisements with just a few clicks.

The new standards will be binding on IAB Europe’s signatory companies and will serve as best practices for EASA’s self-regulatory member organizations (“SROs”). Although EASA’s new standards are not binding, they are commonly agreed upon by the advertising industry and SROs at the European level. IAB Europe has introduced procedures to ensure compliance and enforcement by granting companies a seal to signify that their practices comply with the new standards.

Both EASA and IAB Europe aim to ensure that a significant part of the online advertising system participates in the self-regulatory framework, and have set deadlines for companies to implement the new standards. In particular, EASA has set a 12-month deadline and is committed to achieving implementation at the local level by at least 70% of the operational SROs by April 2012. IAB Europe has stated that its signatories must self-certify their obligations under these new standards and adopt the icon by June 2012.

For more information, see EASA’s Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising andIAB Europe’s European Self-regulation for Online Behavioural Advertising Framework.