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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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The Future of Fair Data Use

Last week, on the 32nd Data Protection Day, the Market Research Society (MRS) launched the Fair Data kite mark, for businesses “… which collect, use and retain personal data properly and ethically”. The Telegraph Report

This is a perfect response to the current customer climate. Our research shows that only 9% of UK consumers have confidence in how businesses handle and store personal data, while 26% expect that their information will be sold or shared by businesses with a third party. 

It is clear from the data that consumers don’t trust businesses to use and store personal data appropriately. Therefore, any move to rebuild consumer trust, such as the ‘Fair Data’ mark, has to be a good thing. 

More and more of us are becoming frustrated with how businesses ask for and use our data. 21% think that websites ask for details that are irrelevant to a transaction: “Too many sites are requiring way too much info”. Furthermore, 68% have asked to be removed from contact or mailing lists and 55% have contacted an organisation to ask that they DON’T share their details with third parties. 

Each day we are asked to submit a multitude of personal information to websites. Online shopping, media services, subscriptions, finance management, social networking sites all require provision of personal data, such as home address, telephone number, credit card details or date of birth. It should come as no surprise that users are interested in what is happening to their data and how it is used. However, increased numbers of unsolicited contacts and news stories about hackers, stolen identities or misuse of data alerts consumers and influences their behaviours. A good example of why transparency is important are the reports of Google facing group privacy claims over the way it side-stepped Apple's security settings on the iPhone, secretly tracking online habits of Apple users. The Guardian Report

When interacting with businesses customers are looking for reassurance that their data is safe. This is why the MRS’ ‘Fair Data’ mark is very timely and an excellent move in the right direction. However, companies need to do more than agree to use data fairly – if they are going to really overcome the falling trust, they must become a lot more transparent and open with consumers, demonstrating why data is being asked for and how it will be used. 

We would say that businesses need to go even further and suggest that they put control of how data is used back in the hands of the customers themselves – giving them control over different types of personal data directly through account management tools. 

This is a good start, but there is still a long way to go.

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