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Online technology to be looked at by the OFT

Nov 16, 2012
The Office of Fair Trading is set to examine how companies monitor the online habits and actions of shoppers.

The UK regulator will look at how companies use this information to set prices to target these shoppers and if any of the current practices are illegal.

The OFT is initially hoping to gather more information from both online retailers and customers in order to determine whether any aspect of the technology used requires further investigation.

Clive Maxwell, chief executive of the OFT, has spoken to the BBC about the agency's concerns, saying, "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.

"Innovation online is an important driver of economic growth. Our call for information forms part of our ongoing commitment to build trust in online shopping so that consumers can be confident that businesses are treating them fairly.

"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."

The regulator aims to consult with its international counterparts, such as the US Federal Trade Commission, on how consumer data is used online and if customers were aware of how it was used.

Online shopping is one of the few current growth areas in the retail market, with it announced earlier in the week that sales were up 11 per cent in October compared with last year. Currently businesses use an array of technology to track customer behaviour and online habits to improve the success of the targeting of their products.


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Online technology to be looked at by the OFT

The Office of Fair Trading is set to examine how companies monitor the online habits and actions of shoppers.

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