NEWS19 January 2022

UK records rise in data privacy complaints

News Privacy UK

UK – Issues around data management and privacy were the biggest concerns in 2020/21, according to the Data and Marketing Commission’s (DMC) latest annual report.

Lock representing data privacy

In the year from July 2020 to June 2021, the DMC reported a rise in complaints against businesses across the data and marketing sector – up by 33% year-on-year from 63 to 84.

However, the DMC investigated fewer complaints involving members of the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) during this period, which fell by 30% compared to the previous year’s total. Member complaints amounted to a fifth of the total number of complaints ( 19%). Some 75% of these were consumer complaints and 25% were about B2B issues.

The majority of complaints relate to data, privacy and quality ( 64%), with contractual ( 18%) and customer service ( 18%) problems making up the remainder.

“Since the introduction of the GDPR, we have seen complaints against DMA members gradually lessen”, said DMC chief commissionerAmerdeep Somal. “A key reason for this is likely down to an increasing awareness by member organisations of their obligation to be transparent, clear and respectful – subsequently more customers now recognise that their data is valued and protected.”

The largest proportion of complaints ( 81%), which involved organisations that are not members of the DMA, were referred by the DMC to other statutory or self-regulatory bodies. However, in some cases, particularly where they involved consumers unable to unsubscribe from unwanted communications, the DMC did reach out to the business to provide a reminder of its legal commitments and request that it unsubscribe the individual.

In the coming year, the DMC aims to become an ICO-accredited independent monitoring body with a clear remit to enforce a new GDPR industry code, through the registration of organisations who sign up to the code and the investigation of complaints.

Somal concluded: “Treating customers with empathy, authenticity and giving them a personal experience will impact customer sentiment in a positive way and will encourage the industry to use big data and other technology tools as a force for good. Ultimately, we all must strive to improve trust in the industry and build a better experience for the customer.”