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DMA lambasts call to ignore industry concerns over EU data privacy reforms

25 Jun 2012 5:07 BST Back
DMA lambasts call to ignore industry concerns over EU data privacy reforms
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The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has dismissed the call from the EU’s head of data protection for the European Parliament to avoid caving in to industry concerns about the effects of data privacy protection reforms, saying that new legislation must not come at a cost to business.

Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, made his comments in his speech delivering his office’s seventh annual report to the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee. He expressed his fear that member states are seeking to water down the draft Data Protection Regulation, and said that some fine tuning of the proposal would be fine, “but on the whole the current approach is good.”

Commenting in response to Hustinx’s remarks Chris Combemale, chief executive of the DMA, said that onerous new data privacy legislation would come with a serious price tag for UK plc:

“Many elements of the Data Protection Regulation would be unduly restrictive for businesses, without meeting the EU’s stated aim of enhancing protection of individuals’ data privacy rights. The idea that lawmakers should ignore the legitimate concerns of industry is highly counterproductive to formulating effective data privacy legislation.”

“People have every right to data privacy protection, but this must not cause an unfair burden on business. Any legislation must strike a fine balance between protecting the interests of both, but the current draft Data Protection Regulation fails to do so.

Combemale added:

“Our members and the businesses we’ve spoken to are in agreement that if the Regulation were to be implemented in its current form, then it would cause significant financial harm to UK businesses that use personal data for marketing purposes to drive sales.”

Earlier this week, the DMA published an independent study into consumer attitudes towards data privacy. The survey, which polled 1,020 UK adults, found that more than one in two (53%) people are willing to share their personal information with brands in exchange for free services and better product deals, and that one in three (35%) regard their data as a tradable commodity. Three in five (58%) state that trust in a brand is the strongest factor in determining whether or not they are willing to share data.

Commenting on the findings, Combemale said:

“The balance of power is now tilted towards consumers. They alone have the ability to choose who they share their information with and understand the benefits of doing so. Again, the new Data Protection Regulation must reflect the reality of the relationship of the savvy consumer and the companies they trade their data with.”

The DMA is conducting an extensive economic impact analysis report to determine full cost to UK businesses if the current draft of the Regulation were to be passed into law tomorrow.
The report will be published in July.

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