Norway’s government prevented from recording individual citizens’ food purchases

6 June 2023 | Statistics Norway wanted to obtain detailed data on individual citizens’ food purchases by combining supermarket receipts and payment data. The data protection authority has now banned this. This is a setback for those working to enable governments to improve the behaviour of their citizens by recording and manipulating their purchasing patterns.

Last June, the Norwegian Statistics Authority’s announced that it would require the country’s large supermarket chains to provide it with electronic till receipts. This data on the products purchased was to be automatically merged with the payment transaction data of the digitally paid purchases. This would have made it possible to determine who bought what.

The stated aim of this measure was to improve the eating habits of citizens. The state wanted to know which groups needed its help the mosr.

From there it would have been small steps to either preventt purchases of “unhealthy” food and stimulants. E.g. for welfare recipients, as is already practised in Australia. Or to make such purchases more expensive for some people – for example, overweight people. One could think of a surcharge to finance health insurance.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority has now banned overbearing scheme on the grounds of disproportionate interference with people’s privacy.

German version

Print Friendly, PDF & Email