FEDMA, data protection and ethics | DMA

Filter By

Show All

Connect to


FEDMA, data protection and ethics


To celebrate European Data Protection Day 2016 FEDMA – the organisation that represents the various national DMA’s in Europe – hosted an event in the European Parliament to debate data protection and ethics.

The starting point for the discussion was gap between the potential of the modern data economy to boost investment, competiveness and innovation with how individuals feel. Many consumers are extremely worried about how their personal data is used and do not feel in control. All this has resulted in a loss of trust in brands and broadly any organisation using personal data.

DMA consumer privacy research found that 90% of consumers want more control over their personal data. Furthermore, trust is the number one criteria for consumers when choosing whether or not to share their personal data, it was a determining factor for 58% of respondents. The question is how does industry bridge this gap and engender trust in their customers. This set the scene for the debate at the European Parliament.

Dr Christopher Kuner, somewhat of a data protection guru, spoke about previous legislation had frequently been seen as a minimum requirement. Organisations sought to comply with the letter of the law and not the spirit, he said. To this end, data protection policy can be overly bureaucratic and thus miss the big picture. Dr Kuner felt this had led us down the road of a tick-box compliance and not a positive culture embedded within a company’s DNA.

However, DMA Group CEO, Chris Combemale, gave a talk and rammed home the message that the DMA has long been making. It is companies that are open, transparent and ultimately give their customers control that will survive and thrive in the modern data economy. It is a business imperative to behave responsibly, keep your customer data secure and listen to their wishes. Only when this happens will the gap begin to be closed.

European Commission Vice-President for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, said, “We should not see privacy and data protection as holding back economic activities. They are, in fact, an essential competitive advantage.”

Reinforcing the DMA message that putting data protection at the heart of a business proposition is key to embedding a culture in a business that puts the customer at the heart of what they do.

Other speakers went to talk about how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) would help combat some of these problems. Partner at Hogan Lovells, Eduardo Ustaran, spoke about how the GDPR had taken a realistic approach and steered away from utopian theories, in the end. For example, privacy impact assessments and privacy by design are real world measures that will help companies embed data protection policy within the culture of the business. Dr Kuner agreed with this sentiment in his own talk.

It remains to be seen whether the GDPR will be effective in bridging the gap. Ultimately, it is the market that will be the decider, as those brands and organisations that give their customers control over their data and respect privacy will be those that thrive and succeed.

Happy European Data Protection Day 2016!

Hear more from the DMA

Please login to comment.