1. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) was reportedly paid over £12million last year for helping firms directly target more than a million young people.
According to the Guardian, Ucas – which controls admissions to UK universities – has been providing data to mobile phone and drinks companies via its commercial arm Ucas Media.
Microsoft, Vodafone and O2 are said to be among the firms who have used the information to target students.
Red Bull apparently promoted three new drink flavours by sending sample cans to 17,500 selected students by using the Ucas system.
There is no suggestion that what Ucas Media is doing is unlawful and applicants can opt out of receiving direct marketing.
A spokesman told BuzzFeed it was untrue that doing so would result in students missing out on careers and education mailings.
2. Ucas Progress, which was set up two years ago, is also said to be collecting data on pupils from the age of 13 looking for post-16 courses. Those who sign up are encouraged to receive marketing by email from “carefully selected third parties”.
Commenting on the findings, Emma Carr, deputy director of the privacy lobby group Big Brother Watch, told the Guardian: “Ucas is perfectly within the law to sell on this information, but the way they are doing so, as is the situation with most data gathering organisations, is underhand.
“It goes far beyond what students would expect them to do with their data.”
Ucas said in a statement: “Ucas and Ucas Media comply strictly with all applicable laws and regulations, in the way in which we handle personal data.
“Ucas Media has strict guidelines for the different groups that we may cover, based on the age sensitivities of our audiences.
“For example, Ucas Media does not accept political, alcohol or tobacco related products for marketing.”