Do we need 'anti-spying' laws to protect consumers?

Independent federal MP and anti-pokies campaigner Andrew Wilkie has told parliament the poker machine and pub arm of Woolworths has been spying on its punters to boost profits.

Mr Wilkie said venues kept databases of customers, which were shared among members of the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH Group), a subsidiary of Woolworths.

The databases contained personal information, such as gambling and drinking habits, which ALH allegedly used to encourage increased gambling. Mr Wilkie called on ALH to destroy the information it holds about its customers.

This is not the first time Mr Wilkie has attacked the gambling industry. Do you think his concerns are legitimate and should lead to new laws to stamp out ‘spying’ on the unsuspecting? Or is this just another way businesses capture information about your spending patterns and consumers are fair game?

Comments   26 Comments

If only, as Anonymous 12.03.18 suggests, we could click unsubscribe to stop the intrusion into our privacy. Unfortunately it does not work like this, and this ill-informed comment naively overstates the power of the unsubscribe hyperlink.
Most are not against companies using their customers habits to enhance the relationship. Everyone does it. It would be ok if they just used this information internally.
But it is the on-selling of this information to third parties that is the problem. I am constantly unsubscribing from unsolicited spam offers, because my details have been onsold.
Another writer highlights the lack of regulation. Self-regulation is a laugh. Just look at the banks and the media as perfect examples of covering up malpractice allowed by self-regulation.
Privacy of our personal information is paramount. Anonymous can make flippant and ill-informed suggestions, but unsubscribing does not stop this spam!

Hitting UNSUBSCRIBE is never going to get rid of spies. A systems analyst could die laughing from such a claim.

When we are spied upon across all levels of both public and private enterprise, we do not need to be criminals to understand that democracy is being taken away and, in the future, our freedoms and lifestyles will be further limited.

Clearly Anonymous has not read any Productivity Commission reports regarding housing or anything else.

These days banks value their long term depositors so little that the manager even suggests that complaining customers take their business elsewhere, as she does not wish to disappoint us. I even had a bank manager suggest that I was a "shareholder of the bank", so I corrected her and said: "No, I am a depositor, not a shareholder." Interestingly a long line of bank customers waiting to see the solo teller heard everything that was said. The line was probably long because the teller did not have time to refill the ATM outside.

Anonymous comment 12/3 ref. 2MC was from WEG. Must have pressed the wrong button. Also a profit of $1Billion for Woolworths Group of companies is a fair result if you consider their capital base and other financial bench marks. Think of the people they employ and the taxes paid. Truely a great company.

As previously mentioned, Woolworths has cut the Wage Allocation in its stores. This means that employees have to work longer hours for the same money just to get the work done. An annual profit close to $1 billion in these circumstances is disgraceful, as is the expectation that the manager should have to do a lot of hard yakka on the floor. How does one manage a store throwing out cardboard boxes?

Those who hope to benefit financially from the crucifixion of workers need to consider long term outcomes for both worker and shareholder.

There are also issues with discrimination in Queensland clubs. The Victorian government has more stringent legislation, but from what I heard on the idiot box recently, the federal government wants to repeal or wind back anti-discrimination laws in clubs.

There seems to be a fair bit of bias on the blog towards one or other of the major parties. If the truth is known, both support corporatisation and the level of regulation is too low. For example, one day people are complaining about the price of power and the next some are claiming that corporates are beyond reproach due to self-regulation. Go figure....

I think we should all support NSA's stance on energy policy. I believe the government has the power to regulate prices so that the general community is not ripped off.

Just because Labor said they would do something about the pokies does not necessarily mean that anything is likely to change, as it is likely to be little more than hot air.

Good comment 2MC and great point on data ‘sharing’ for profit. ‘Data collection’ has been around for generations. The fact it’s online real-time means instant feedback. If Seniors believe this to be an intrusion on their way of life why not just press the ‘unsubscribe’ button and the problem is fixed.

Also TG for those cameras and other tracking devices, also the linkages to welfare/mobile/driver’s licence/TFN etc. . Only criminals would fear such developments.

Eureka is 100% correct. Self regulation forms an essential undertaking for a company’s overall Risk Management strategy. It has a direct oversight from the Company’s Board/Audit Committees.
A large Corporate such as Woolworths is inherently risk adverse and I suggest makes substantial effort to be compliant in every segment of its Group’s operation. Internal audits programs and risks programs are tested by the External Auditors not to mention the many regulatory authorities.
To suggest otherwise is either naive or a mischievous attempt to mislead Seniors once again.

As others have said, tracking people's purchases and preferences, the time they shop and how much they buy etc has been going on for a long time ... I can't see that stopping any time soon.

Spying on people / having security cameras in city streets etc is necessary as it is on public transport.

I think sharing of data about people's personal habits is a different matter. I think it's fine within the group that captured the data but not OK to on sell it to others.

Yes, WEG is not alone in her gladness that the Greens are almost a spent force in Tasmania, having gained only one seat at the state election. I can imagine that Bob Brown is fairly depressed.

I think Labor lost the election because the economy had picked up a bit under Liberals (or so we are told), the Labor leader was a blonde woman only in her 30s, and Labor possibly didn't receive many preferences from (unpopular) Greens. Taswegians also could not afford to pay exorbitant prices for heating during their comparatively cold winters, which could be partly responsible for the Liberals' win.

I have also heard that Tasmania's population is very top heavy with older people, most of whom are likely to be too worldly wise to support Greens. Unfortunately a lot of Greens' policies are now being supported and upheld by large factions of the major parties, which is largely not a plus.

Weg, I know which party's integrity is in tatters.Tas Labor accepted no money for their pokie ban policy.On the other hand, Liberal policy was paid for by substantial campaign donations from tne poker machine industry.Labor would rather take an honest policy to the election and lose, than adopt policy paid by campaign donations.And don't get me started on the Liberals secret agreement to change gun policy leaked the day before the election. Another policy paid for by gun lobby campaign bribes this time.Please Weg, at least do some research before contributing. You make it too easy for us to show up your attempts to mislead and distort the real facts.

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