German Credit Agency Plans to Use Social Media Data to Determine Creditworthiness

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

The largest credit agency in Germany, Schufa, announced that it is planning to use data gathered on social media sites to measure the creditworthiness of German citizens.  Germans, who are already known to be very protective of their privacy, have been publicly voicing their concerns over the news, most of which are ironically doing so on social networks.  Schufa has said that they intend to fully respect internet privacy laws during this three-year trial, but based on their planned actions, its hard to see how this respects any privacy laws.

Ilse Aigner, Consumer Protection Minister, stated to the Munich Merkur newspaper that “Schufa cannot become the Big Brother of the business world… Social networks should not be systematically mined for sensitive data that would influence the credit ratings of clients.”  So what data does Schufa plan to look at?  Information on user’s relationships, addresses, and interests are among the top things being gathered from the top social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Schufa has been fairly quite on the details since the news broke, but has defended its decision to various media outlets.  The head on business communications from Schufa told NDR radio that the goal of the projects is “to analyze and research web data for our own purposes,” and that “Schufa is asking itself what consequences the technological development of the Internet will have for its own business prospects.”

With all the shock and controversy surrounding the decision, Schufa will more than likely have to be as transparent as possible in disclosing what data they are taking and how they plan to use it.  But will it be enough to make German’s feel like they still have some form of privacy?  How would you react to something like this in the US, or how do you feel about the move if you are currently living in Germany?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Source: Reuters, Deutsche-Welle

Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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