Vogue Business/ George Arnett/ January 23, 2020

Your favourite fashion retailers might know your favourite authors.

They might also know where you live, where else you shop, your favourite movies and details about your diet. By gathering data from social media sites, sharing data with trusted partners — such as other retailers — and buying data from ad tech companies, retailers can piece together information about their customers that goes well beyond what clothes they’ve purchased and how regularly they shop. Retailers, of course, likely know the latter too.

This information helps retailers target their products accordingly, but it must be accrued and handled carefully. The General Data Protection Regulation, introduced in the European Union in May 2018, forced retailers to take stock of and potentially eliminate personal data they hold on consumers. It also gave customers the right to request a copy of their data and have personal information erased.

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