PRIVACY INTERNATIONAL AIN'T HAPPY with seven major companies and has filed complaints against them for "wide-scale and systemic infringements of data protection law".
Acxion, Oracle, Criteo, Quantcast, Tapad, Equifax and Experian are all in Privacy International's sights, with the organisation filing complaints in the UK, Ireland and France, urging data protection authorities to look into what it alleges is the "mass exploitation" of individuals' data.
"Our complaints target companies that, despite exploiting the data of millions of people, are not household names and therefore rarely have their practices challenged. In tandem with the complaints, we have today launched a campaign to seek to empower people and make it easier to demand that these companies delete our data," Privacy International said.
The privacy charity says there's a pattern of companies effectively infringing the requirements set out in the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) using 'legitimate interest', a legal basis which seemingly protects companies against data protection regulation if they can show they have a legitimate purpose in collecting data and a that its processing is necessary and balanced against an individual's rights to privacy.
"Legitimate interest cannot be equated to the interest of companies to make a profit from our personal data. But that is what some of the data broker companies seem to believe. Our complaint aims to challenge this interpretation and to limit reliance on a legitimate interest, in line with the ICO's guidelines," said Privacy International.
In effect, Privacy International has had enough of companies appearing to use legitimate interest as a way to collect and process data that is actually breaching people's privacy under GDPR guidelines.
Alongside calling out the seven companies, Privacy International has also launched a campaign to try and empower people to make it easier to demand that companies delete their data.
While we suspect there's plenty of people who don't really care if their data is being sucked up providing they get swish online services for free. But Frederike Kaltheuner, Privacy International's data exploitation programme lead, hinted at a mildly dystopian future if companies keep collecting data willy-nilly.
"The world is being rebuilt by companies and governments so that they can exploit data. Without urgent and continuous action, data will be used in ways that people cannot now even imagine, to define and manipulate our lives without us being to understand why or being able to effectively fight back," Kaltheuner said.
"We encourage journalists, academics, consumer organisations, and civil society more broadly, to further hold these industries to account."
We'll have to wait and see how the complaints are progressed against the seven firms. But Privacy International had a strong track record of getting what it wants, so we expect the targeted companies aren't in for an easy ride. µ
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