“Our industry must use complaint feedback to enhance data privacy learning for SMEs when UK GDPR is reformed”

The Data & Marketing Commission’s (DMC) Chief Commissioner, Amerdeep Somal, issues comments about how regulators can help businesses, especially SMEs, when UK data protection laws reform – following the publication of the DMC Annual Report 2021-22.

The DMC’s plans are progressing to become an accredited Monitoring Body for the ICO with an enhanced remit to enforce the Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA UK) Industry Code. It is hoped that this Monitoring Body status will be achieved by early 2023.

“The DMC is working closely with the ICO to help change perceptions of regulators, so we are not just seen as regulation enforcers, but also as free knowledge hubs for businesses and consumers. The DMC believes there is a great opportunity to create industry-wide feedback reports more frequently with additional best practice learnings, to further support the business community through both challenging and uncertain times,” said Amerdeep Somal, Chief Commissioner of the DMC.

The DMC believes the marketing industry must bring education to the forefront and share learnings from investigations to improve industry practices. This will help create an environment where businesses and marketers are encouraged to learn and increase the flow and exchange of information.

“Annual Reports like ours and the ICO’s are a great resource for business learning through their evidence-based reporting and unique industry insights. The reports provide timely insights into industry issues to help businesses learn from common mistakes, helping to prevent expensive legal costs and reduce training fees which can be a huge burden on businesses, especially SMEs. For these reasons, our industry must use complaint feedback more to enhance data privacy learning for SMEs when UK GDPR is reformed.”

Number of complaints against industry declines

In the year ranging from July 2021 to June 2022, overall complaints against the marketing industry declined. Although the DMC reported an increase in the percentage of customer service complaints, rising to 31% (up from 18%). Most of the complaints received still relate to data, privacy, and quality (62%), with contractual (8%) problems making up the remainder. The total number of complaints against non-DMA members declined by 44% this year.

For the second year running, the DMC investigated fewer complaints involving members of the DMA during this period – falling by 25% when compared to the previous year’s total. Member complaints amounted to nearly a quarter of the total number of complaints (24%).

“Not only have complaints against DMA Members continued to decline year-on-year, but we have also observed a sharp decline against non-DMA Members too. This is likely due to growing awareness by organisations about their obligation to their customers to be transparent and respectful. However, with UK data protection laws due to reform soon, businesses must stay vigilant, engaged, and responsible – ready to embrace the reforms with the help of regulators like the DMC,” added Somal.

Organisations that are not members of the DMA, were referred by the DMC to other statutory or self-regulatory bodies.

Full details on the complaints, investigations, and more thoughts from the DMC’s Commissioners are available in the full Annual Report, available here: https://www.dmcommission.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/DMC-Annual-Report-2021-22-Final-1.pdf

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