Woolworths ponders opening up on its data use

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Woolworths ponders opening up on its data use

As regulators target loyalty data lakes.

Woolworths is “exploring” whether to provide greater visibility of how it collects and handles data associated with its Rewards loyalty scheme.

With an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) crackdown on loyalty data lakes on the cards, the retailer has revealed its thinking on data practices.

Though it has made some minor changes to the way it displays terms and conditions and its privacy policy, Woolworths suggested it might make them more easily digestible with “infographics, images and videos, which will be more engaging and easier to digest than the current, primarily text based approach.”

“User experience consumer testing will help shape our final approach,” it said in response to the ACCC [pdf].

The retailer also said it is exploring whether or not to afford consumers “greater visibility over the types of data which Woolworths collects, including where it is collected from, how it is handled, and with whom it is shared”.

But Woolworths said it wanted to take “a balanced approach to the challenge of ensuring that consumers are sufficiently informed but also are not overloaded with information.” 

“For example, Woolworths considers that informing consumers of the category of recipients with whom it shares data (for example, technology companies which support our business operations such as Salesforce), along with naming partners who play a particularly substantial or significant role in a service or are likely to be of interest to consumers (for example, Qantas), will be more effective than an exhaustive list of company names which consumers are unlikely to recognise or derive benefit from, which may change on an ongoing basis, and which may create challenges with respect to cybersecurity,” it said.

Woolworths pledged support for customers having “meaningful control over their data”, though the text immediately following this is redacted.

However, the company was concerned at the prospect of needing to collect consent for “every circumstance in which a consumer’s personal information is collected, used or disclosed”.

It also backed a “general right of consumers to choose to have their personal information erased, insofar as this is practical and not unduly burdensome to business.”

In addition, Woolworths asked the ACCC not to prohibit it from linking payment card information with a loyalty card, noting the practice should be allowed with “informed consent”.

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