Profiling to Practice: Real Life Examples

Profiling to Practice: Real Life Examples
December 12, 2016 Arne Defurne

profiling gdpr practiceWith the GDPR, profiling is one of the provisions that will have the most significant impact on businesses that rely on profiling and processing large quantities of data, and you as a customer and data subject. For the first time a European law defines what profiling means. Shortly, profiling is composed of three elements: automated form of processing; carried out on personal data and the purpose is to evaluate personal aspects about a person.

To put some practice into the theory, this blogpost will give 3 examples to show what the impact of profiling is or can be on your life as a consumer of all the goodies in the world.

Imagine, you’ve found your dream house and lo and behold: it’s for sale. Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees. Money however does ‘grow’ in banks, if you get a loan at least. When asking for a loan, a bank will ask for your personal data such as do you have a job, what kind of money do you earn, how many children do you have, what are your expenses, how many loans do you already have, … All the data will be processed automatically in a computer program, and the program will decide firstly, if you can receive a loan and secondly, if you’re approved, what it will cost you. Often the employee at the bank will have no influence over the outcome as it is determined by an algorithm included in the loan-determination-software. This is profiling. For every person there may be a different outcome, due to the different personal data which is automatically processed.

After buying that beautiful dream house, you need to get insurances for e.g. fire, burglary, … Again the insurance company will ask personal data to let a computer program decide how much you have to pay to make sure your beautiful dream house, stays your beautiful dream house. However, what happens when your insurance broker informs you that your fire insurance will be €300 a month?! Well thanks EU for the GDPR! You have the right to know the logic behind this automated decision where the computer decides and profiles your data. You may think: “what do I know of computers and how they work?” Well, your insurance broker will need to be able to explain the decision-making program in an understandable matter.

You probably do not want to live alone. Luckily there are many websites and applications that will help you find a perfect companion to live with, whether it is a girl/boyfriend or just a roommate you’re looking for. After filling in your personal profile, and perhaps swiping your way through possible candidates you will be matched with your possible perfect someone. This is also profiling. You will be matched with a person, that according to the website/application is a person that meets your requirements and vice versa.

So there you go, a sample of practical implications of profiling and the impact on almost everyone’s lives.

This post was written by Anne Demoor, Junior DPO and Associate at Cranium