The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) was sending letters to over 60 leading online businesses to remind them on their duty regarding transparency of customer data.
A recently published Personalised Pricing Report by the OFT looked at how consumers' information are stored in places such as internet cookies and the usage by online firms to influence prices.
The main results of the report are:
- No evidence could be found that retailers use customer information to offer higher prices to specific customers. But it could be observed that retailers use customer data to shape their pricing or place advertisements relevant to their interests.
- Consumers feel uneasy about the usage of their personal data when shopping online and the selling of this information to third parties. Moreover little understanding of how online businesses get or use their information or of the steps they can take to protect their privacy could be observed.
- The OFT is concerned that a loss in trust towards retailers within the e-commerce business could happen. Thus the OFT calls for accurate, honest and clear information about the usage and selling of customer data to third parties. Furthermore consumers should have a genuine chance to opt-out of non-essential collection and use of their data as well as to have fair privacy terms and conditions.