SVRVPersonalized consumer information: A workshop report

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German Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs (SVRV)

Release date:
February 2022

German Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs, Berlin

Why should the SVRV deal with such a topic, namely the personalization of consumer information? The reason is twofold: Personalization is part of everyday life in the digital economy and society, personal data may be collected, and it is also collected on a massive scale, only essentially to improve the marketing strategies of companies. But there are two sides to every development, and so it is here. Consumer information could be personalized to remedy a key deficit: Over-information while under-information. In a perfect world, everyone could get the information he or she really needs in concreto. In its report on the situation of consumers, the SVRV addressed the deficits and also the possible strategies for overcoming them, without coming up with its own solutions. In this perspective, the report at hand can be understood as a concretization of the debate that the SVRV initiated with the situation report in April 2021.

The question about the possibilities and limits of personalized consumer information stands in the context of a further and far more explosive discussion: That about the so-called personalization of law. For even a personalization of mere information ultimately leads to the question of whether a differentiation of the addressees of the information is legally permissible. Seen in this light, the pros and cons of a personalized consumer information law are at stake. But first, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by personalization, which technical and theoretical premises lie behind a personalization of the law, and how information is actually to be operationalized. This is all the more necessary because information in the digital economy and society is under considerable political – keyword 'fake information' – and economic – keyword 'advertising and information' – pressure.

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