Only weeks after being rocked by the loss of a lucrative third-party data contract with Facebook, Acxiom is facing further scrutiny over its data practices after Privacy International named the business as one of the key targets of a new campaign which will investigate what it brands “the hidden data ecosystem”.
According to Privacy International, this “comprises thousands of non-consumer facing data companies – such as Acxiom, Criteo, Quantcast – that amass and exploit large amounts of personal data”.
Using the rights and obligations provided by GDPR, the organisation’s campaign will probe a swathe of companies whose business models it claims raise questions under the new regulation.
To launch the campaign, Privacy International has rifled off letters to a “selection” of data companies, although it has not given further details beyond the three named businesses.
The letters ask a series of probing questions aimed at gaining clarity into how the firms handle personal data in view of their obligations under GDPR.
The organisation claims that “non-consumer facing data companies’ business models depend on collecting and exploiting personal data without interacting with people directly”. It insists that amassing vast amounts of data about people and using it in ways that they would not expect is the “antithesis of what GDPR requires”.
Privacy International legal officer Ailidh Callander said: “[GDPR has] been a long time coming, and it is an important step in the right direction, providing essential safeguards to our human rights to privacy and data protection, by imposing more stringent obligations on companies, strengthening rights of individuals, and increasing enforcement powers.
“GDPR is a key tool to empower individuals, civil society, and journalists to fight against data exploitation.”
In April, Acxiom revealed that Facebook’s decision to scrap third-party data deals could cost it up to $25m (£18m). While the closure of the scheme will also hit Experian, DunnHumby and Epsilon, among others, Acxiom was the only company to comment on the move, following a fall in its share price; at one stage it was down 34%.
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