Qantas toolbar swaps data for frequent flyer points

A search toolbar released in collaboration between Yahoo7 and Qantas rewards users with frequent flyer points in return for monitoring their web activity.

A search toolbar released in collaboration between Yahoo7 and Qantas rewards users with frequent flyer points in return for monitoring their web activity.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Qantas has released a browser toolbar for Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer that allows users to earn up to 150 frequent flyer points per month just by performing web searches — but there's a catch. In exchange, the airline will use the toolbar to collect and record your search history and web activity for marketing purposes, The Age has reported.

According to the Qantas website, each "eligible" search using the toolbar — which, launched in collaboration with Yahoo7, uses Yahoo Search — will earn one frequent flyer point, to a maximum of 150 per month. (For context, it costs 14,000 points for a flight from Sydney to Melbourne.)

In return, your web activity will be collected and sent to FreeCause Inc (trading as Rakuten Loyalty), a US-based company that builds search bars for the purpose of providing targeted marketing.

The terms of use state, "As part of your use of the Toolbar, Qantas will collect personal information including search and web browsing activity collected through your use of the Toolbar and Yahoo7 search engine, and may use it for marketing purposes in accordance with the Toolbar Collection Statement and Toolbar Terms and Conditions."

The full terms and conditions go on to add:

It is a condition of use of the Toolbar that you consent and authorise RLO to: (a) collect all Toolbar data from your use of the Toolbar; (b) provide all such Toolbar data to Qantas for use by Qantas in accordance with clause 8.2.

This data can be freely used by Qantas, any of its related bodies corporate and any third party providing services to Qantas.

The toolbar follows the launch of a similar service by Coles' Flybuys toolbar in November last year, which also sends browsing data to FreeCause.

While some don't mind the data collection, others consider it a breach of privacy. One user on the Australian Frequent Flyer forums noted that Google also collects search data, but another said, "With cache clearing/private mode etc ... you can be anonymous on Google. Even if being tracked, they still only know you as an ID ... Here, you are logging into your Qantas account ... They know your name, address etc ... and what you search for."

Others have installed the toolbar to earn points for "junk" searches that they don't care if Qantas sees.

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Internet
About the author

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

 

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