Groupon Privacy Rules Draw Congressional Attention

Groupon

Groupon's recent changes to its privacy policy are drawing scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this month, the company said it would start collecting and sharing more information about users with its business partners. On Thursday, Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) asked company CEO and founder Andrew Mason a host of pointed questions about its intentions.

The lawmakers' questions include whether Groupon intends to obtain consumers' opt-in consent to data collection, including geolocation data, and whether the company requires its business partners to adhere to Groupon's privacy policy.

"Groupon offers discounted prices on personalized deals, but it shouldn't discount the protection of customer's personal information," Markey stated. "Groupon may be collecting personal information, such as phone numbers, emails and location data from mobile devices. This type of sensitive data, especially if it belongs to children and teens, requires special protection."

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Markey and Barton, who co-chair the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, also asked Groupon specific questions about how it determines consumers' ages. The lawmakers recently unveiled legislation that would ban behavioral targeting of minors under 18.

The lawmakers also asked Groupon to explain the extent of data collection about users' friends. The letter refers to a section of Groupon's privacy policy that says the company collects contact and relationship information when people buy Groupons as gifts.

"Does this statement imply that Groupon would capture personal information about a person who did not interact with Groupon without the customer having knowledge of the data collection?" Markey and Barton asked.

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