The council analysed nine popular dating sites from October to December last year, and found that all of them had pre-set permissions for using account owners’ personal data for advertising.
Only three apps allowed users to opt out, while two required people to disclose up to 12 pieces of personal information at registration, such as their name, date of birth and phone number.
“It’s a dilemma, because when you want to use these apps, you really want to get the right person for dating. And of course if you want to get the right person, you need to give them more information,” said Nora Tam, chairwoman of the council’s research and testing committee.
She also urged people to avoid going on dates in secluded places and drinking too much, also noting that there has been an increase in online romance scams in recent years.
Separately, the watchdog urged education institutions to state clearly the terms and conditions of further education courses, after receiving more than 130 complaints last year about sales tactics and contract terms.
In one case, a complainant said she was denied a refund for a purportedly refundable English proficiency course which costs HK$26,500, just because she didn’t meet the admission requirements.
“The education institutions have the obligation to tell the consumers in detail about the terms and conditions of your courses, especially if it’s a continuing education fund… you have to advise consumers very clearly about the requirements, so that there’s no dispute afterwards,” said the council’s chief executive Gilly Wong.