Office of Fair Trading to examine online consumer tracking

To scrutinise online businesses

The Office of Fair Trading is to examine to what extent businesses monitor online shoppers and use the information to target them with personalised offers and prices (view press release). The OFT is considering whether it needs to intervene due to  the business and technological developments in online shopping that allows businesses to monitor consumer behaviour online and how they use this data.

Businesses can collect and record information about individual shoppers’ purchasing habits, websites they have visited and the items and services they have looked at, as well as the type of device or internet browser they use. The OFT is to consult with international partners including the US Federal Trade Commission.

OFT Chief Executive Clive Maxwell said: “We know that businesses use information about individual consumers for marketing purposes. This has some important potential benefits to consumers and firms. But the ways in which data is collected and used is evolving rapidly. It is important we understand what control shoppers have over their profile and whether firms are using shoppers’ profiles to charge different prices for goods or services.”


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