Facebook bars Admiral from analysing users' posts to price car insurance

Car insurer wanted to use Facebook posts to determine quote discounts

Facebook will not let Admiral analyse users' data to determine customers' car insurance prices.

The social network confirmed to IT Pro that users' accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes on Admiral's firstcarquote app.

The app, which Admiral has been working on for some time, would offer first time drivers a discount of between 5% and 15% on their car insurance in exchange for access to their Facebook data.

Advertisement - Article continues below

An analysis of their posts and likes over the last six months, allegedly including whether they use exclamation marks and certain words, would determine any discount, with Admiral saying that there is a "proven link between personality and how people drive".

It was due to go live this week, but was put on hold yesterday evening, which Admiral said was to address "a few outstanding issues".

But Facebook today confirmed that users' data would not be available to Admiral whether or not users granted the insurer permission to access it, as it breaks Facebook's usage policy.

A spokesperson told IT Pro: "Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us. We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

"We have made sure anyone using this app is protected by our guidelines and that no Facebook user data is used to assess their eligibility. Facebook accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes."

Advertisement - Article continues below

Instead, Admiral will now have to ask users of the app to answer a series of questions that will assess their eligibility for a discount instead.

Facebook's statement comes after privacy organisation, the Open Rights Group, raised concerns about the app.

Executive director Jim Killock said: "We need to think about the wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions that affect us financially or otherwise, based on what we have said on social media.

"Young people may feel pushed into such schemes because of financial constraints. The right to keep things private shouldn't be the preserve of those who can afford it."

Meanwhile, UK data watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), told IT Pro it will ask Admiral about the techniques the insurer wanted to use on data.

An ICO spokesperson said: "The law says that the use of personal information must be fair. A key part of that fairness is ensuring that people are informed about how their data will be collected and used and it is processed fairly. This applies to using personal information acquired from social networking sites. We are paying particular attention to the increasing use of new 'social scoring' techniques to ensure that these developments proceed in accordance with the law."

Advertisement - Article continues below

Admiral's lead on the project, Dan Mine, told the Guardian it was not an invasion of people's personal data, saying: "It is incredibly transparent. If you don't want to use it in a quote then you don't have to."

The insurer's FAQ still tells applicants that it's up to them how much data they share, but adds that "what we have access to will impact how we understand and calculate safety and the discount we're able to offer".

Any data collected would be a "static snapshot" of the last six months and would be stored in Amazon Web Services, but Admiral admitted that older data could sometimes be taken into account.

Admiral is yet to respond to IT Pro's questions, but it did post on Twitter to say it has not yet used Facebook data to set prices. AdmiralUK tweeted: "In response to today's coverage, we'd like to assure customers Admiral doesn't use social media data to set prices for its policyholders. We haven't and don't access Admiral policyholders' Facebook data."

IT Pro asked Facebook whether or not it had stripped the app of its ability to access profile data during a final review process all Facebook-related apps go through, but the company declined to comment further.

This story was originally published at 11.15am on 2 November but was updated at 11.55am with comment from Facebook and the ICO. The story was updated again at 12.45pm to include Admiral's Twitter comments.

Featured Resources

The case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now
Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/policy-legislation/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/355337/ico-will-reduce-gdpr-fines-due-to
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

ICO to relax GDPR enforcement during coronavirus economic downturn

16 Apr 2020
Visit/security/privacy/355304/nhs-working-with-apple-google-coronavirus-tracking-app
privacy

The NHS teams up with Apple and Google on coronavirus tracking app

14 Apr 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/data-protection/355250/health-sites-sharing-users-medical-data-with-major-tech
data protection

Health sites are 'unlawfully' sharing medical data with Facebook and Google

7 Apr 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/data-protection/355184/supreme-court-finds-morrisons-was-not-liable-for-2014
data protection

Supreme Court rules Morrisons was not liable for 2014 data breach

1 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Visit/operating-systems/microsoft-windows/355812/microsoft-warns-against-installing-windows-10-may-2020
Microsoft Windows

Microsoft warns users not to install Windows 10's May update

28 May 2020
Visit/infrastructure/server-storage/355785/dell-emc-poweredge-r7525-review-an-epyc-core-density-to-make
Server & storage

Dell EMC PowerEdge R7525 review: An EPYC core density to make Intel weep

26 May 2020
Visit/infrastructure/network-internet/355792/intel-releases-wi-fi-and-bluetooth-driver-updates-for
Network & Internet

Intel releases Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver updates for Windows 10

26 May 2020