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Almost half of UK shoppers plan to exercise new GDPR rights over personal data: study

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Almost half of UK shoppers plan to exercise new rights over their personal data that will come into force with the General Data Protection Regulation, on May 25 2018, a study suggests.

Evidence of a shift in attitudes towards personal data emerged from the OnePoll study commissioned by analytics specialist SAS. It questioned 2,000 UK consumers between May 24 and 26 2017, and found that 48% planned to wield their new rights over personal data. A third (33%) said they would exercise the right to have their data removed by retailers, while 33% would ask retailers to stop using their data for marketing purposes. Almost one in five (17%) said they would challenge automated decisions made by retailers and 24% said they would access the data that retail companies hold about them.

Some 41% said they would be willing to share their basic demographic information while 19% said they would share lifestyle and hobbies information in return for a preferential service or discounts.

The most likely to issue a request is the 45 to 54-year-old age group, where 21% say they will use their new rights in the first month. That propensity falls to 13% among 18 to 24-year-olds.

“Finding customer zero is a huge challenge for some organisations,” said Charles Senabulya, vice president and country manager for SAS UK & Ireland. “Personal data is often stored in thousands of databases and organisations will need to find, evaluate and categorise every piece of data relating to each customer to ensure compliance. Overcoming this challenge presents an opportunity for organisations as they form a new type of relationship with their customers that is bound by integrity, understanding and respect for their individual choices. We are entering a new data era that requires a firm grip of customer data. One that rewards consumers as well as protects their right to privacy.”

Overall, 64% welcomed the right to access their information, and 62% the right to erase. More than half (59%) were pleased to see a right to rectification, 56% the right to object to companies using data for marketing or profiling, while 54% welcomed the right to restrict processing, where the accuracy of data is in question.

Four in 10 (41%) would share basic information such as age and gender, while 24% would share personal contact details and the same proportion would share partner status. But only 16% would share their favourite brands, and 14% their media preference.

• Meanwhile, wifi provider Purple demonstrated consumers’ unwillingness to read through lengthy terms and conditions when it added in a clause to its wi-fi T&Cs that would require users to, at Purple’s discretion, clean portaloos at local events, paint snail shells, remove animal waste, and hug stray cats and dogs – and 20,000 people still signed up.

The company says the results highlight the importance of GDPR in bringing fairness and trust to the digital economy. Chief executive Gavin Wheeldon said: “WiFi users need to read terms when they sign up to access a network. What are they agreeing to, how much data are they sharing, and what license are they giving to providers? Our experiment shows it’s all too easy to tick a box and consent to something unfair.”

Purple, which says it is already compliant with GDPR requirements, believes that one of GDPR’s headline rulings, the introduction of ‘unambiguous consent’ before users’ personal or behavioural data can be used for marketing purposes, should be implemented across the industry now rather than waiting for 2018.

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