Ramping Up for IPO, Groupon Changes Privacy Policies

By Erin Harrison July 11, 2011

With a big initial public offering in its near future, digital discounter Groupon has changed its privacy policy giving the company more latitude with users’ personal information.

Groupon, which boasts 83 million subscribers, features a daily deal on, “the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in 43 countries,” according to the Chicago-based company, which launched in November 2008.

Of greatest concern, perhaps, is the fact that third-parties can tap into your social networks if you allow them.

If you choose to link your Facebook account with your Groupon account, “all of Groupon’s third-party partners not only get access to the information you’ve provided to Groupon, they also get complete access to all your public Facebook information as well,” according to this TG Daily report.

Although Groupon’s revised privacy policy appears black-and-white, leaving little room for misinterpretation, as was the case with Apple’s iPhone location-tracking faux pas a few months back.

“If you use a social media platform or your mobile device (or other method of communication) to interact with Groupon or the Sites, the application may have a specific privacy statement that governs the use of Personal Information related to that application,” states Groupon’s privacy policy.

Since Groupon is founded on locally-based offers, it says that the more personal information provided the better for users, but its privacy statement points out that users can control how much or how little is shared.

“We think that you benefit from a more personalized experience when we know more about you and the kinds of deals you like. However, you can limit the information you provide to Groupon, and you can limit the communications that Groupon sends to you,” according to the company’s policy.

With the Federal Trade Commission aggressively pushing for a “do not track” bill, one report says Groupon isn’t holding its breath for any rulings.

“Groupon doesn’t care, it’s all about marching toward the big IPO looming in the future, expected to raise $1 billion and value the company at roughly $30 billion. So now the company has moved against the current trend of other social networks and Internet companies, and also the calls of members of the FTC, altering its privacy polices to collect and share more information,” the International Business Times reported.

Groupon was born from a website called The Point, which was launched in November 2007 and lets you start a campaign asking people to give money or do something as a group – but only once a “tipping point” of people agree to participate. Now, it’s just a matter of time when investors will be “tipped” off Groupon’s official IPO.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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