Data privacy debate to come to the fore, experts say

By William Mitting, Wednesday 24 June 2009

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The debate on data privacy is coming to the fore as the EU mulls a clampdown on how companies use data, industry experts have said.

The rise of online data collection is both an opportunity and a potential pitfall to businesses looking to harness online information to drive print and online marketing.

Speaking at a conference examining the use of on and offline data organised by direct marketing company Howard Hunt, David Reed – editor of Data Strategy magazine – warned companies of a move towards transparency in data management regulation.

He said that the European Commission may revisit the 2002 Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which could lead to a clampdown on how companies are allowed to use data.

"There are a number of questions coming from the Commission such as 'Will companies have to prove that the privacy policy has been read?'" he said.

Darron Gregory, of Howard Hunt's data arm Celerity, said the potential revisiting of the rules came as customers' attitudes to data use was changing.

"Customers now expect info to be used to talk to them in the right way," he said. "People want to be given relevant information. The data debate is coming to the fore."

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