MPs have given the green light to companies who make money by harvesting personal data from internet connected gadgets, prompting disquiet over Parliament's commitment to protecting consumer rights.
A Commons committee dismissed privacy concerns to back advertising based targeted according to a wealth of personal details gleaned from smartphone apps, social networks and internet connections.
Such details can include users' physical location, Facebook likes and web browsing history, as well as any data shared with an app or online service, which may include anything from diet to sexual activity.
Buried deep in a report to Parliament, the The Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee noted: 'Increasing use is being made of personal data to target online advertising better.
'While concerns around this have prompted reviews of data protection legislation, we do not think the targeting of appropriate advertising —essential to so many business models — represents the greatest threat to privacy.'
But campaigners warn that individuals are losing control of their personal lives and that once this information is collected there is little way of knowing how it will be used.
'We do not control when the gadgets and services we use leak information about us,' said Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group. 'The rules about what companies who get that data can do with it are woefully inadequate.
'For example, health and fitness apps on our phones or wristbands share all sorts of data about us to companies whose privacy policies can be unclear, and who face some pretty lax regulation.'
Branding the conclusions of the committee 'analysis lite', he added: 'As far as we can tell, the Committee fail to look in any way at how targeted advertising works, how it collects information, or at the rules governing how companies can use and share our personal information.'
Targeted advertising uses a number of means to build profiles of potential customers, tailoring the products promoted to them accordingly.
Advertising networks like Google have done this by following web users across the internet, using so-called 'third-party cookies' to record the websites they visit and tailoring adverts towards their interests.
'We do not control when the gadgets we use leak information': Privacy campaigners have warned that online devices share data with companies whose privacy policies can be unclear and who face lax regulation