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Half of Us Will Activate Our New GDPR Rights Within A Year

The results of a new survey by analytics, business intelligence and data management firm SAS indicate that more than half of UK consumers look likely to exercise their new GDPR rights within the first year of GDPR’s introduction.


The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that applies to those who collect, store and process the data of EU citizens came into force on 25th May this year. The Regulation replaced the EU Data Protection Directive of 1995, is part of EU privacy and human rights law, and was supposed to ensure greater consistency and harmony between data protection laws across the EU by bringing all data protection elements under one law for all countries. This meant that UK citizens appear to have been granted greater levels of protection of their personal data than before.

The Survey Results

The results of the latest post-GDPR SAS survey have been compared to a pre-GRPR survey conducted in 2017, and have shown that more people are planning to (and look more likely to) be exercising some aspect of their new GDPR rights more quickly than was thought after the first survey.

For example, the latest survey results show that 31% have already activated their rights over personal data, and 55% (compared to 42% in last year’s survey) plan to do so within a year.

The Facebook / Cambridge Analytica Scandal To Blame For Increase

The survey puts the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal at the centre of the reasons why more people have already exercised their new GDPR rights. For example, 88% of UK consumers said they were aware of the scandal and, of those, 72% said it had caused them to retract data permissions, as well as planning to share less data or review how companies use their personal information.

One Mistake Enough

The SAS survey also shows that in the wake of being granted new rights and hearing about the extent of the Facebook / Cambridge Analaytica scandal, people are now much less likely to tolerate misuse and mistakes involving their personal data. For example, 45% said they would activate their data rights after only one mistake.

Social Media Companies and Retailers

According to the survey, social media companies and retailers are going to have to work the hardest to retain customer data, and can expect large numbers of requests to opt-out and to have data erased. For example, the SAS survey shows that 43% of consumers object to social media companies and retailers (41%) using their personal data for marketing. Supermarkets (37%), insurers (35%) and energy providers (34%) are the next to be least trusted with personal data.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Being on the end of years of annoying spam calls and emails, hearing about multiple high profile data breaches, the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal, and now being granted greater control of how their data is used and shared has clearly made consumers more determined to exercise their rights, express how much value they place on their security and privacy, and take control back by opting-out. Those organisations that have been most in the spotlight for letting consumers down e.g. social media companies and retailers, look likely to face the brunt of the initial GDPR backlash.

An important message that businesses need to take from the results of the SAS survey(s) is that they need to respect their customers and their data or risk losing both, which could, in turn, damage their competitive advantage and hit profits. Yes, compliance with GDPR as a law is an important ongoing goal, but businesses should also remember that transparent data management and analytics are important to provide the kind of personalised customer experiences that make consumers more willing to share their data.


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