Hello Europe - Data protection: scandal at the Austrian Post

The Austrian Post is at the heart of a huge scandal since an investigative site has been re-examined.


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Data protection: scandal at the Austrian Post

The Austrian Post is at the heart of a vast scandal since an investigative site revealed, Monday, January 7, 2019, that it collected and marketed the personal data of its customers.

It is the site Addendum that revealed this practice of the Austrian Post, a company listed on the stock market but controlled more than 52% by the State. According to Addendum, the firm collects and markets the personal data of three million of its customers, more than a third of the country's population. A marketing that would bring him ten million euros per year. So what are these personal data? This is the name, age, gender and address of the clients. But it is more serious, because for more than two million Austrians, the Post also disclosed their alleged political affinities. All these data are then sold to the various Austrian political parties.

And, how are these alleged political affinities defined by the Austrian Post ?

According to Addendum, La Poste crosses the various information it has collected from its customers with the election results of the different polling stations or with other statistics such as opinion polls. The company thus gets a probable political bias and these data are then sold to the parties. A common practice for years the very admission of the company, which acknowledged the facts this week. But according to La Poste, this calculation model serves only to limit unnecessary mail shipments for the parties that buy this data. Given the extent of the controversy, the Post has announced that it would delete information about the supposed political affinities of its customers, but continues to say that this practice is legal.

But NGOs do not agree

The association Epicenter Works, which considers that this practice violates the general European regulation of data protection, the RGPD entered into force last May and whose purpose is to protect Internet users against the unauthorized use of information about them. Same judgment by the Consumer Rights Association, VKI, which calls on users to lodge a complaint. And many have denounced on social networks an unacceptable practice. Some put it in perspective with the revelation last March of the scandal Cambridge Analytica, the name of the British firm that had exploited the Facebook data of millions of users without their knowledge, which would have benefited the campaign of Donald Trump in 2016.

The Austrian government, for its part, has not yet reacted on this matter and the opposition parties are discreet. Only the Jetzt List, an ecologist party, called for stronger legislation. In any case, an investigation was opened by the Austrian Data Protection Authority.

REF: http://www.rfi.fr/emission/20190111-autriche-scandale-poste