Privacy advocate group Digital Rights Watch today welcomed a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on customer loyalty cards, which called into question the privacy protections provided to consumers under such schemes.

“The data protection elements of consumer loyalty schemes has always been of great concern to us, and so it’s welcoming to see such a strong statement from the ACCC on this matter,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton.

“Consumers are often unaware of the transactional relationship they enter when signing up to, or using a loyalty card. Their individual privacy is used as a currency and benefits the company more than it provides dividends for the consumer.”

“Personal data is fast becoming one of the most valuable elements of any business, and it’s important that people understand and consent to this. Companies must use clear and understandable language to describe how our data is used, so that any consent given by individuals is meaningful.”

“The onus is now on businesses who run these loyalty schemes to be more upfront and honest about their commitment to the privacy of their customers. What data is being harvested, for what purpose, where is it stored and used and what control do individuals have over its management?”

“We look forward to further action from the ACCC on this important privacy matter, including any possible action on companies that fail to make their practices transparent in a meaningful way. The time has come for real legislative reform to protect consumer data.”