The Article 29 Working Party has met with leading advertising groups to discuss ongoing concerns regarding a self-regulatory code of conduct for online behavioural advertising. A full opinion on the subject is due by the end of 2011.

The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party recently met with the Internet Advertising Bureau and the European Advertising Standards Alliance to discuss its concerns with their Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising (the "Code").

The Code, which was released in April 2011, proposes a consent mechanism that enables internet users to "opt out" of being tracked by cookies for behavioural advertising purposes. However, tracking and serving ads would continue to take place unless and until people exercised their objection.

The Working Party set out its main concerns with the Code in a letter dated 3 August 2011, in which it described the consent obtained via this opt out mechanism as being "wrongly assumed" and "illusory". The Working Party advocates a more stringent "opt in" approach in order to comply with the recently revised ePrivacy Directive obligations regarding obtaining consent for the use of cookies.

Following a further meeting between the parties to discuss these issues, the Working Party issued a press release on 14 September 2011. According to the press release, the advertisers acknowledged at the meeting that the Code does not provide compliance with current ePrivacy legislation, and the Working Group has warned them that companies may therefore be "misled" into seeing the Code as a "safe haven" for compliance.

The Working Party will now prepare a formal opinion on the Code by the end of the year.

A copy of the Working Party's letter to IAB and EASA dated 3 August 2011 is available here, and a copy of the press release for the meeting held on 14 September is available here.