Adam Penman Quoted in Article on App Firms, Adtech Industry and Data Privacy

January 27, 2020

McGuireWoods London associate Adam Penman was quoted in a Jan. 16, 2020, Compliance Week article on how popular dating and lifestyle apps appear to be selling users’ personal data to advertisers and marketing companies, despite enactment of data privacy laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In the article, Penman said “it appears that app firms react to complaints which hit them hard commercially, while maintaining a low-level quasi compliance infrastructure which does not restrain capitalizing on marketing opportunities. Being fundamentally reactive [to complaints] simply pays more dividends than being proactive about compliance.”

Instead of fines and other “sticks” to encourage compliance, Penman said, supervisory bodies should design “carrots” — for example issuing “seals of approval” for apps and websites that comply with GDPR and similar measures.

“The fear of corporate fines does not appear to be working, despite their potentially high value,” said Penman. “But compromising the trust between a consumer and the product/company they are using will hit tech companies’ longer-term commercial interests.”