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ACCC Goes After Data Harvesters


Data harvesting by brands such as Apple Google Facebook and even the likes of Samsung as well as big retailers along with third party Companies who work hand in hand with the big brands are facing an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Whether you have a TV, smartphone, or appliance or even a Logitech keyboard or mouse the chances are that the manufacturers of these Companies are collecting data.

Many of the big Companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook collect data because they want to sell access to personal information, or they actually want to sell a product direct bypassing traditional retailer.

The biggest issue is Third party Companies who are collecting the personal information of consumers– including names and home and work addresses and buying habits – from social media sites, internet and search services, apps, customer loyalty programs, card payment providers and public records, like electoral rolls and then on selling it to the highest bidders or advertising agencies acting for big brands.

Now the whole process of data harvesting is the subject of a new investigation by competition and consumer services regulator ACCC.

Consumers, businesses and interested stakeholders can provide submissions about data broker services locally, as part of the ACCC’s five-year digital platform services inquiry.

The ACCC will focus on businesses that collect information from third-party sources and sell or share that data with other organizations.

Among the Companies selling data are CoreLogic, Equifax, Experian, Illion, LiveRamp, Nielsen, PropTrack, Oracle and Quantium.

Some of these Companies claim that they have “legal teams bigger than their sales teams” because of the issues associated with data capture.

A report will be handed in to the Treasurer in March next year, exploring how the information is collected and used and if there may be competition and consumer issues arising from it. Submissions are due by August 7.

“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 says. “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.”

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