Aug 18, 2011: Barton, Markey Respond to Groupon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-Chairmen of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, today released the response to the inquiry they sent to Groupon asking about the company’s new privacy and data collection policy. The Washington Post reported in July that Groupon would be expanding the categories of personal information it collects and shares with partners and third parties. Reps. Barton and Markey released the following statement about Groupon’s response to their query about the company’s data collection and sharing policies and practices.

“Groupon is an example of a modern day business success story, but I want to make sure that getting a discount on a meal or a concert ticket doesn’t cost someone their privacy,” said Rep. Barton.
“In answering the questions posed by Rep. Markey and myself the company demonstrated several ways in which they protect consumers’ private information. I have learned that Groupon desires to deliver offers that are convenient, affordable, and relevant. In an effort to make this a reality, they should never let convenience compromise the integrity of the company.

“Because it is growing at such a fast pace, I fear for the potential misuse of consumers’ personal information as more partnerships are created. It is vitally important that businesses with online models keep the protection of consumers’ data at the top of their list and leave no room for assumptions. Everyone involved in the online industry should take responsibility and be held accountable for the use of consumer data,” concluded Rep. Barton.
“As Groupon continues to evolve, it will be critical that it does not place a discount on privacy,” said Rep. Markey. “It’s appropriate that Groupon currently uses an opt-in feature for location-based services. This enables consumers to decide whether to grant permission for Groupon to pinpoint where a consumer is at any given moment so it can make offers tailored to that location.  Transparent, easily understandable privacy policies and practices are key here, and I will continue to monitor this rapidly developing area of the industry.”
Groupon’s response to Reps. Barton and Markey can be found HERE.
A copy of the letter from Reps. Barton and Markey to Groupon can be found HERE.