MRS launches “Fair Data” kite mark

New scheme aims to assure public that companies are using personal information appropriately.

data protection

A new ethical mark has been launched to help the public easily identify organisations that are collecting and retaining data properly and ethically.

Dubbed "Fair Data", the arrival of the new scheme, launched by the Market Research Society (MRS), coincides with the 32nd annual Data Protection Day, which aims to highlight and improve awareness around data security issues.

There is a real need to help the public identify who they can trust with their data.

Major companies, such as pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, have signed up to the scheme, which is set up to audit companies' use of consumer data and is based on 10 core principles.

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Organisations will need to ensure that all personal data is collected with customers' consent and that such information will not be used for any purpose other than that for which consent was given in order to respect customers' wishes. Furthermore, organisations signing up to the scheme will have to make sure that customers have access to their personal data and be fully informed about its use.

"There is a real need to help the public identify who they can trust with their data," said Jane Frost, the society's chief executive.

"Public concern is at an all time high and we are getting increasing numbers of complaints about data use. This is about fundamental respect for the people whose data we all rely on for commercial and public purposes and about getting to the very basis of the right way information should be gathered."

In addition to the 10 core guiding principles, the MRS has set up an advisory service to ensure organisations understand their obligations.

The new initiative is also supported by the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.

"If the public are to let their personal data be used then they need to know which organisations they can trust to use it properly," he said.

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"Organisations need to make a public, visible commitment to standards in the handling of the personal data of others."

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