The changes were announced in an e-mail to an estimated 83 million subscribers and come as the social deals service seeks to go public. Some analysts estimate an initial public offering could value the company at as much as $30 billion.
The changes could invite greater scrutiny by federal regulators and privacy advocates. The company provided extensive detail on the way it collects, stores and shares data on its users. Regulators have called for such disclosure.
The changes are sweeping and show how the social deals sites and other social networking companies like it plan to use troves of user information to serve up personalized business offerings and advertisements, particularly through location-based services.
Specifically, Groupon said it would expand the categories of “personal information” it collects and shares with partners, such as Expedia. Now, Groupon will share data on interests and habits with third-parties. Other information it shares includes contact information, relationship information, transaction information and mobile location information.
That means a partner like Expedia will know if a user recently bought a coupon to stay at an all-inclusive Cancun resort, went skydiving or bought laser hair removal services as a gift for a friend.
“All of the changes to the updated privacy statement were made to improve readability, provide greater transparency about our information handling practices, address some new types of relationships Groupon is forging and new technologies Groupon is using or may use, and to let you know about the privacy choices you have,” the company said in an explanation of changes.