Market research industry threatened by proposed UK data laws

market research data

New data protection law proposals could undermine trust in the market research sector

The UK government has proposed to reform its data protection laws which are currently in line with the EU’s General Data Protection Guidance. In a government consultation, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said that the need “to provide human review [of AI decisions] may, in future, not be practicable or proportionate.”

Under current law, individuals have the right to contest decisions made about them by artificial intelligence (AI). The Market Research Society has opposed the change to this law, pointing out that removing the option to request a human review could weaken confidence in data usage.

“For those of us in the market research sector, the UK government’s proposal to reform data protection laws, and in particular remove the right to have a human review of automated decisions, is concerning,” said Jane Frost, Chief Executive of the Market Research Society, in an article in The Financial Times.

“Informed consent is the basis of public faith in our industry and gives us our licence to operate. This includes the right to submit and have personal data assessed by algorithms on the understanding that decisions can be appealed and referred to a person if requested. If this were to be removed or restricted it would undermine confidence in data use, thereby damaging associated sectors across the country.

“Innovative thinking is welcome, but not at the expense of fundamental rights.”

The UK market research industry is the second largest in the world and worth around £7bn, but it relies on the public being confident in data protection laws in order for them to share their data.