Black and white image of two stacks of paper side by side

Data privacy? Data Security? Is it my problem?

30 May 2019

I listened to a fascinating talk at the Quirk’s London event in February this year. This was given by Greg Clayton (Kadence International) and Finn Raben (ESOMAR) and was on the subject of data ownership and perceptions of ownership.

Greg and Finn ran a research study looking at the views of marketing professionals in the UK, USA and India and some of the findings were extremely surprising.

Starting with the good …

  • 86% agree that there should be a minimum level of data protection everywhere

But then things start to get more worrying … 

  • 47% agree that businesses share data too freely with third parties
  • 50% believe that data should be more strictly controlled in their own organisation

Something that REALLY shocked me was that decisions about data seemed to be made in the IT department.

  • 30% said the Head of IT was responsible for data
  • 39% said the Head of IT was responsible for sourcing any technical solutions for collecting and analysing data

There was also generally a poor understanding of legal issues, including ownership of the data that’s been collected.

These findings reinforce the fact that many organisations still aren’t handling data correctly.

Data ethics and compliance

A year ago, it seemed that everyone was in GDPR meltdown. People who hadn’t been handling data in an ethical way were having to delete whole chunks of their databases, or they were spending time and money gathering consent in order to ensure their databases were compliant.

BUT market researchers have been dealing with data for decades – it’s what we do, all day every day.

We have an ethical code of conduct (ESOMAR and the Market Research Society have their own codes).

We have always been transparent about what we are collecting data for and how we will use it.

We are the data experts.   And we are needed more than ever.

So what can market researchers do to help?

We can help in several ways –

  • Support our clients in becoming compliant
  • Call out those who don’t adhere to GDPR
  • Work with our clients to demonstrate the value of ethical data practices
  • Educate others so there is understanding of our ethics, guidelines and codes of conduct

There is still a lot of work to be done. But as the data experts, we must continue to shout out loud about the importance of maintaining data privacy and security.