26 September 2023

ACCC to fix data broker services

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is calling on consumers, businesses and interested stakeholders to provide submissions about ‘data broker services’ in Australia, as part of a five-year digital platform services inquiry.

An issues paper was published a week ago seeking views and posing questions about the business practices of data brokers and the products and services they create and supply.

Potential competition and consumer issues that may arise in the supply of data broker services are also a focus.

“There is little transparency and awareness of how data brokers operate in Australia despite the vast amounts of information they collect about Australian consumers and the central role they play in enabling the exchange of information between businesses,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“Data brokers collect information from a range of sources including from social media sites, internet and search services, apps, customer loyalty programs, card payment providers and public records, like electoral rolls,” she said.

“Types of information collected include names, home and work addresses, age, browsing behaviour, purchasing behaviour, and a range of other socio-economic and demographic information.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said some of the products and services data brokers create include audience profiling reports, consumer purchasing data and risk and fraud management products for tenancy or insurance applications.

“The report will focus on businesses that collect information from third-party sources and sell or share that data with other organisations (third-party data brokers)”, she said.

“Businesses that collect data on their own customers and use that within their own business, or sell or share that data with others (first-party brokers), will not be a focus.

“Some Australian consumers may not be aware that their information is being collected, stored and sold by third-party data brokers with whom they have no direct relationship. This report will explore how third-party data brokers collect and use information to create products and services and if there may be competition and consumer issues arising from this.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said the ACCC will consider the products and services supplied by several data brokers including CoreLogic, Equifax, Experian, Illion, LiveRamp, Nielsen, PropTrack, Oracle and Quantium.

“We are eager to hear from data brokers and consumers and businesses that interact with the data broker industry,” she said.

“We are also seeking to understand how data products and services may be beneficial for small businesses.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb asked the businesses that sell or provide data to data brokers and businesses that purchase or use data brokers’ products or services are especially encouraged to respond to the issues paper by 7 August 2023.

The ACCC defined a data broker as a person who collects personal or other information on persons, and sells this information to, or shares it with others

The issued paper, seeking views and posing questions about the business practices of data brokers can be accessed at this PS News link.

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