The Office of Fair Trading is set to investigate the way in which customer information is collected and used by online firms.
Before launching a thorough investigation, the UK regulator is taking steps to assess data collection practices to ascertain whether or not illegal activities are taking place in the industry.
It is understood that some firms, which operate online, monitor consumer activity on their website and then use the collated information to manipulate prices that are shown on screen.
Chief Executive at The Office of Fair Trading, Clive Maxwell, stated: “It is important we understand what control shoppers have over their profile and whether firms are using shoppers’ profiles to charge different prices for goods or services.”
In today’s marketplace, many businesses have online monitoring tools which collate information regarding a consumer’s online shopping habits.
The latest technology available allows firms to see which websites and webpages have been looked at by a particular customer and hone in on the products and services which have been popular.
However, concerns have been raised that the technology has evolved very quickly, and remains widely unregulated. Critics have suggested that this information has then been used to the detriment of consumers.
It remains to be seen whether the Office of Fair Trading’s initial findings then result in the launch of a formal investigation into the practice of online consumer monitoring.