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Belgian Market Court refers IAB Europe ruling to the European Court of Justice

The Belgian Market Court (part of the Brussels Court of Appeal) has made an interim ruling to refer preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on how the concept of data controllership in the GDPR is to be applied.

The move comes in response to IAB Europe’s appeal of the February 2022 decision by the Belgian Data Protection Authority (APD) to consider a TC String (a digital signal containing user preferences) as “personal data” under the GDPR. The referral to the CJEU means that a final judgement by the Market Court is unlikely until 2023 or even 2024.

IAB Europe has welcomed the latest decision from the Market Court to seek guidance from the CJEU. Townsend Feehan, IAB Europe’s CEO, said: “The interpretation of the notions of personal data and controllership embraced by the APD is unnecessarily broad from a consumer protection point of view and has significant negative implications for the development of open standards and the Codes of Conduct foreseen in the GDPR. It would place an unacceptable financial burden on host organisations, discouraging the development of these important compliance tools.”