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MRS Launches New Privacy Mark

January 28 2013

The UK-based Market Research Society (MRS) has chosen today - officially Data Privacy Day - to launch a new kite mark scheme, Fair Data. The mark identifies organisations which 'collect, use and retain personal data properly and ethically'.

MRS Chief Executive Jane FrostCovering both companies and public sector bodies, the scheme requires either membership of the MRS (and therefore adherence to its Code of Conduct), or acceptance of ten core principles.

MRS Chief Executive Jane Frost (pictured) CBE says the Society perceives 'a real need to help the public identify with whom they can trust their data' and has received 'increasing numbers of complaints about data use.' She adds: 'The research sector that MRS represents has been at the forefront of ethical personal data collection and use for decades... We work closely with the Office of the Information Commissioner and it is appropriate therefore that we should take a leading role on this issue.'

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham endorses the scheme and comments: 'Organisations need to make a public, visible commitment to standards in the handling of the personal data of others... My office has worked with MRS in the past on issues arising in the research area and I know they have the experience to launch this scheme.'

Eight founder supporters of the scheme include client companies Lil-lets and GlaxoSmithKline, plus PricewaterhouseCoopers and five research agencies: GfK NOP, Millward Brown, Opinion Leader, Research Now, and Chime Insight & Engagement Group.

The mark will be backed up by an audit process, mandatory for all client organisations that are not already MRS accredited, and an advisory service which will include face-to-face, telephone and e-mail support as well as best practice seminars. Where organisations are not MRS members, the audit will be conducted by audit partner the ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations).

The scheme - online at www.fairdata.org.uk - is launched as the EU debates an update to its Data Protection Directive - see http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/index_en.htm .

The ten Fair Data Principles are as follows:

  1. We will ensure that all personal data is collected with customers' consent
  2. We will not use personal data for any purpose other than that for which consent was given, respecting customers' wishes about the use of their data
  3. We will make sure that customers have access to their personal data that we hold, and that we tell them how we use it
  4. We will protect personal data and keep it secure and confidential
  5. We will ensure staff understand that personal data is just that - personal - and ensure that it is treated with respect
  6. We will ensure that the vulnerable and under-age are properly protected by the processes we use for data collection
  7. We will manage our data supply chain to the same ethical standards we expect from other suppliers
  8. We will ensure that ethical best practice in personal data is integral to our procurement process
  9. We will ensure that all staff who have access to personal data are properly trained in its use
  10. We will not use personal data if there is uncertainty as to whether the Fair Data Principles have been applied.


Data Privacy Day is planned as an annual online industry developed day designed to promote Internet security - details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Privacy_Day .

All articles 2006-19 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.

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