UK consumers distrust organisations over data protection

MPs told organisations need to stick to clearer standard of collection, protection and use of customer data

UK organisations must follow clearer standards when it comes to the collection, protection and use of customer data, MPs and business leaders have been told. 

A number of high-profile security failures were highlighted at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Customer Service (APPG), which have raised customer concerns over the security of their data. According to research published by the Institute of Customer Service, 43 per cent of UK consumers are concerned about cyber attacks.

Many consumers want government to take action as Big Data continues to grow, with 84 per cent wanting the Government to impose fines on organisations lacking sufficient safeguards and 86 per cent wanting a review of data protection legislation.

Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, said: "The responsible use of Big Data can enhance the customer experience - but getting things wrong can really annoy customers and trash brands in the [process]. So there are threats as well as opportunities."

"Getting data protection right is key to the delivery of innovative services in the public sector too. The key point for all organisations to remember is that customers' personal data is just that - the customer's, not yours to do what you like with," he added.

Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service, said acceptance of the inevitability of cyber attacks may be a reality and this places the onus on organisations to outline what plans are in place to secure their customers' data. 

"They also need to be transparent in the event of a breach and clear about how they will respond if cyber defences are broken."

She added that a customer's experience is determined not just by performance when things go well, but the promise of performance when things go wrong. 

"That's why the organisations best able to deliver a strong, reassuring and detailed outline of their cyber strategy and demonstrate its execution will set themselves apart from their competitors and go a long way to securing the loyalty of customers in the long-term," she said.

Read next: EU finally agrees on General Data Protection Regulations

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