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Lawmakers Question Groupon on Privacy

  |  July 21, 2011   |  Comments

Congressmen sent Groupon a letter asking about firm's privacy policy changes.

edmarkey

The Co-chairs of the Congressional Privacy Caucus and co-sponsors of the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 sent Groupon a letter requesting more information about the firm's privacy policy changes. The questions place Groupon in a data privacy net digital companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are already caught up in.

"In a time of increased consumer concern of their personal information being misused online, is Groupon willing to allow consumers to 'opt-in' to all tracking methods the company may use when conducting business? If not, why not?" asks the letter, sent today to Groupon CEO Andrew Mason by Representatives Ed Markey (pictured left) and Joe Barton.

Groupon recently changed its privacy policy, and the congressmen are seeking further information about the changes, particular related to online and mobile data tracking, collection, sharing. The congressmen requested responses from the daily deals company by August 10.

"We want to make sure that 'the Groupon Promise' is kept and that going after a good online deal doesn't lead to your information being sold to the highest bidder. I look forward to Groupon's responses," said Barton, a Texas Republican, in a press statement.

The legislators asked the company when it tracks consumers' social media interactions and on what sites, and whether Groupon collects personal information of gift recipients that otherwise don't have interactions with the firm.

In addition, they want to know which merchants, service providers and other business partners Groupon works with and whether they are held accountable to Groupon's privacy policy.

Mobile data privacy is a key focus of the Do Not Track Kids bill, sponsored by Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, along with Barton and two other Representatives. The letter asks how Groupon determines the age of consumers, and asks the firm to provide additional information related to geo-location data tracking.

"In short, if you use a Groupon mobile app and you allow sharing through your device, Groupon may collect geo-location information from the device and use it for marketing deals to you," states the new Groupon policy.

The letter demands that Groupon, "Please explain instances when location information would be collected even when consumers are not logged into the application," and asks whether consumers are able to opt-in to that data collection.

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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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