Austria’s Post Office under fire over data sharing

VIENNA (AFP) – Austria’s national post office found itself under fire yesterday for collecting and selling information about customers’ political allegiances in what privacy campaigners say bears similarities to the Facebook data-sharing scandal.

According to the investigative journalism website Addendum, the Austrian Post sold the names, addresses, age and gender of around three million customers to other companies for targetted marketing purposes.

It also makes assumptions about users’ likely political allegiances, compiling up to 2.2 million such profiles.

That information is sold on to political parties so that they can better target potential supporters in election campaigns, Addendum reported.

The privacy campaign group, Epicenter Works, argues that such a practice runs contrary to European Union data protection rules.

It was a “scandal” that the Austrian Post was collecting and selling assumptions about customers’ party political allegiances without their knowledge and permission, said Wolfie Christl, a campaigner at Epicenter Works.