Monday, April 22, 2024

Loyalty programs a threat to privacy?

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has released two privacy assessment reports on the loyalty programs of Coles and Woolworths.

The commissioner’s assessments focused on whether the personal information collected through Coles’ flybuys and Woolworths’ Rewards loyalty programs was handled transparently and in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

Eighty-eight per cent of Australians are members of loyalty programs, which reward individuals for their purchases, while retailers collect data about individual buying habits in return.

“While it’s encouraging to see that Coles’ flybuys and Woolworths Rewards each had appropriate privacy notices that were consistent with their practices, it’s important that all Australians understand the bargain we strike with a retailer when we join a loyalty program,” Mr Pilgrim said.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch, nor a free flight. The data that loyalty programs collect is valuable, and personal. So in this case, there is a price for the rewards from these programs. The details collected in them might seem insignificant on their own, but when merged together they can paint a picture of who we are, what we do and how we behave. This information is worth a lot to organisations. So it’s important that we understand the terms of the programs we join – especially what privacy protections they include.”

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