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UK OFT Call for Information on Personalized Pricing Practices

HL Chronicle of Data Protection

21 November 2012

This post was contributed by Mac Macmillan, an attorney in Hogan Lovells' London office

The United Kingdom Office of Fair Trading has issued a Call for Information on personalized pricing practices in the UK, in another illustration that "big data" is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the world of data protection and privacy.

Personalized pricing takes the concept of targeted marketing one stage further. The theory is that retailers may adjust the price they offer to a website visitor based on the visitor's past online behavior or location. This has traditionally occurred with retailers sending discount vouchers to consumers who have browsed particular products to encourage them to buy, but there are concerns that retailers are now able to identify "high willingness to pay" consumers and may alter prices accordingly.

The OFT first looked at this issue in a report on Online Targeting of Advertising and Prices in 2010. At the time it did not find any evidence that this type of personalized pricing was happening in the UK, but it recognized that the area was still evolving. Therefore one of the purposes of the new Call for Information is to understand the changes that have taken place since the 2010 study, to ensure that regulatory controls keep pace with technology and business strategy.

The closing date for submissions to the OFT is January, 4 2013. More information can be found on the OFT's website.

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