Marketing: Privacy

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 27th October 2021.

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Photo of Sam Tarry Sam Tarry Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the impact of online tracking and data harvesting activities by advertising and marketing companies on people's privacy.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State

The use of online tracking technology is regulated by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). This legislation sets rules in relation to organisations’ use of cookies, tracking pixels and similar technologies that track information about people accessing a website or other electronic services. It also requires organisations to give people clear and comprehensive information about the use of tracking technologies, and a choice about whether or not they are applied on devices.

The ICO is the independent regulator for PECR and the UK GDPR and has produced guidance for organisations on the use of tracking technologies. It is currently conducting an investigation into use of personal data by the ad-tech industry and will publish its final findings, once the investigation is concluded. Further information can be found on the ICO’s website.

People who have privacy concerns in respect of the use of their personal data by any organisation can contact the ICO for further advice or to make a complaint. The ICO can be contacted by telephone on 0303 123 1113 and through their live chat facility. Further contact details are on the ICO’s website. The ICO has a number of tools to take action against those who breach the legislation. For example, it can require organisations to address unlawful practices and impose civil monetary penalties.

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