Consumers International Digital Update: Cyber Trust Mark and Personalised Pricing

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picture of Earth with a blockchain overlay in white set over a space backdrop

This month Consumers International’s (CI) update on the digital world covered some interesting developments and research in the consumer world including CHOICE’s recent article on facial recognition technology (FRT) used in half of Australia’s stadiums (found here), and the recent Members Connect series on building consumer trust in generative AI, whose panel included ETDA Thailand and the BEUC.

But perhaps the most exciting updates were the ones from the United States of America and the European Union.

In the U.S.A, Consumer Reports recently participated in a White House launch for a new national “cyber trust mark” – a big first step to introducing an Internet of Things (IoT, anything internet-connected) labelling system which would systematically, end-to-end, label security and privacy attributes of devices for consumers in descriptive and easy to understand ways. Currently, the ‘cyber trust mark’ only addresses the strength of a products cyber security against attacks and remains a voluntary system.

In the EU the BEUC (the European consumer organisation) has released a paper on personalised pricing, a technique whereby companies use the personal data of consumers to show different prices to different people based on the maximum amount they predict the consumer will pay. This technology is not seen as acceptable by the vast majority of consumers, and comes with consumer welfare issues, questionable transparence, unfair discrimination (or the risk of it), and remains a huge invasion of privacy. The BEUC has called for a general prohibition on price personalisation as the method contradicts consumer rights and consumer data rights in the EU, with the exception of fully transparent, and necessary limited data collections for things such as home insurance. For more please see the BEUC’s website here where you can also download the full position paper.