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BBC report on new EU legislation

Posted on: Wednesday 15th of February 2012

The BBC’s report Do you have the right to be forgotten online gives a really good overview of the new European Data Protection legislation, its aims to put people back in control of their personal data and what it means for consumers. “Companies can’t go foraging for data in the wild and pretend that what they find is theirs. The big idea at the heart of the new directive is that personal data is…personal’.

The report features the great new video released by the European Commission this week warning people that they could be sharing more than they think when they use online services, and highlights the potential of the legislation to fundamentally change organisations’ attitudes to customer data, shaking up business models. It suggests the penalties for non compliance – one million euros for individuals or 2% of turnover for organisations – are critical in doing this.

Monique Goyens from The European Consumer’s Organisation says in the piece, “They have made so much money out of consumer data without ever paying any individual for the data they have given away that now I am not worried about the business models. This should be just rebalancing the interest in society and in markets. Consumers should be able to control their data.”

A really crucial point is cited at the end of the report and is about trust. With reference to Google and Facebook the journalist asks, “ Is there a trend? Companies inventing uses for all our data to head off criticism for holding on to…. all our data. The risk is that in doing this that both Google and Facebook might reveal to users just how much they know about them, spook them and loose them. Online companies might think that their greatest asset is personal data – it might not be – it could turn out to be trust.”

This hits the nail on the head. Organisations should realise that customers’ attitudes towards their personal data are changing. Individuals are starting to recognise the value of their data and wanting to place their relationships with businesses on new footing. Businesses that embrace this – complying with the spirit and letter of the new legislation – will benefit from positive brand reputations and higher levels of permission based data sharing with customers. Businesses that don’t risk being left out in the cold.