Admiral Insurance has delayed the launch of its new Firstcarquote platform, after Facebook rescinded permission to use its customers’ Facebook data in order to decide how much they will pay for car insurance.
The use of Facebook data, which includes personality assessments compared to data collected from real claims, was deemed to be in breach of Facebook policies, which prohibit the use of “data obtained from Facebook to make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan".
Anti-surveillance activists the Open Rights Group has criticised Admiral’s proposed use of data in this way. Executive director Jim Killock said: “We might be penalised for our posts or denied benefits and discounts because we don’t share enough or have interests that mark us out as different and somehow unreliable.”
Killock went so far as to suggest that using data in this way may unintentionally “perpetuates social biases that are based on race, gender, religion or sexuality”.
“Young people may feel pushed into such schemes because of financial constraints," he added. "The right to keep things private shouldn't be the preserve of those who can afford it.”
The site for Admiral’s Firstcarquote includes little detail on the scheme’s delay. A statement says: “We were really hoping to have our sparkling new product ready for you, but there’s a hitch: we still have to sort a few final details.” The site also provides instant quotes for the Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 and Peugeot 107, suggesting that these are the insurance giant’s preferred cars for first-time drivers.
An Admiral spokesman said: “Firstcarquote, which will allow first time drivers to voluntarily share some social data with insurers for a simple and discounted quote, is currently a beta product. Admiral does not have access to customers’ Facebook data and does not hold social media data to set prices for its customers. Following discussions with Facebook the product is launching with reduced functionality, allowing first time drivers to login using Facebook and share some information to secure a faster, simpler and discounted quote.”