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    The claim

    Experian has created detailed profiles of over 95% of the adult population in the United Kingdom for commercial use.

    It is one of a number of big companies who are profiting from using your personal data unfairly or without your consent.

    We act for Dr Liz Williams, an academic and privacy advocate. Liz is passionate about the importance of big tech respecting the rights and privacy of individuals.

    Dr Williams is bringing a claim against Experian as the ‘representative’ of everyone who Experian has ‘profiled’ in England and Wales. She hopes to change Experian’s behaviour and to win compensation for the more than 95% of the adult population of England and Wales whose data has been collected and used unlawfully.

    “Experian[‘s] processing of personal data in the context of their marketing services remains non-compliant with the data protection law.”
    – ICO report on data brokers, October 2020

    One of the ways in which Experian makes money is by creating and collecting personal data from a wide range of sources, assembling this personal data into profiles of individuals, and then selling those profiles on.

    In building each profile, Experian joins up the otherwise unconnected actions people take in their daily lives. Moreover, Experian also expands each profile by using algorithms to make guesses about people’s characteristics. These algorithms are opaque and often guess inaccurately.

    By creating and selling the profiles of individuals, Experian allows the numerous businesses that buy profiles to target individuals with highly tailored content. Such content includes advertising and news. More and more evidence shows that highly focused content targeting has the potential to profoundly damage individuals’ mental health – this is especially true for children. The last five years have also shown that content targeting creates “echo chambers” by insulating people from diverse perspectives.

    The buyers of the profiles can use the detail in them in order to target their advertising towards particular types of people (e.g. people who gamble) or to exclude types of people (e.g. people with bad credit history) or to target people going through a particular “life event” (which might include pregnancy or a bereavement).

    According to Experian’s marketing material, it can “provide daily, weekly or monthly life event triggers to identify the right time to deliver a message. These triggers can be based on important life events like moving home or having a baby… helping to ensure that at this critical purchasing time your clients organisation is front of mind.”