UK brands attempting to figure out who customers and prospects are as they switch between devices got some advice from a leading privacy lawyer and the Information Commissioner’s Office at Adobe’s EMEA Summit. If they’re using probabilistic modelling, they are almost certainly either collecting or using personal data.
Ruth Boardman, Partner at legal firm Bird and Bird, suggested that marketers should stop trying to convince themselves they are working with anonymised data, rather than personal information. Instead she said, their efforts would be better steered towards accepting the intention is to identify someone, either directly or indirectly, and reflecting this in their privacy policies.
“My advice is people don’t spend their time trying to justify collecting information on people to guess who they are, on the grounds that it isn’t personal information,” she said.
“Ultimately, you’re trying to find out enough about someone that you can have a good guess who they are, and so that is personal. This should be in privacy policies but also brands need to talk to the ad tech guys to find out how the process works. If there are cookies or device fingerprinting being used, for example, you need to be getting consent from users.”
Iain Bourne, Group Manger of Policy Delivery at the Information Commissioner’s Office agreed with the sentiment on behalf of the UK’s privacy regulator.
“It’s not really worth having a long debate about whether this is not personal information when it’s aimed at identifying people,’ he said.
“People want to have very clear decisions placed in front of them, so it’s better to put the consent options right in front of their face.”
The advice obviously does not apply to those using log-in data on different devices to identify people, because by using a profile a person is identifying themselves and would have agreed to the terms and conditions of signing up for a service.
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