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MRS launch Fair Data Initiative

On Data Privacy Day, 28 January 2013, the Market Research Society (MRS) launches a new ethical mark for personal data.

As reported on the ABC website: The mark, Fair Data, means that members of the public will be able to easily identify between those organisations which collect, use and retain personal data properly and ethically, and those that do not.

Launched for all those organisations – public and private sector – which collect and use personal data, Fair Data is set to become the instantly recognisable standard for an organisation that can be trusted to do the right thing with all individuals’ data.Consumers and the general public should look for the Fair Data logo, which can only be used when an organisation signs up to ten core principles.

Jane Frost CBE, MRS Chief Executive, comments: “The Market Research Society has conceived, developed and launched Fair Data as we believe that there is a real need to help the public identify with whom they can trust their data. Public concern is at an all time high and we are getting increasing numbers of complaints about data use.

“The research sector that MRS represents has been at the forefront of ethical personal data collection and use for decades and our members make up nearly 70 per cent of this sector. We work closely with the Office of the Information Commissioner and it is appropriate therefore that we should take a leading role on this issue.

“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. I would urge everyone to actively support this initiative.”

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: “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. Organisations need to make a public, visible commitment to standards in the handling of the personal data of others.

“I welcome this initiative as a step in the direction of getting users of public data to make such a public commitment to standards. My office has worked with MRS in the past on issues arising in the research area and I know they have the experience to launch this scheme.”

Mary Young, Head of Marketing at Lil-lets, which is the first pilot b2c company to sign up to Fair Data, said: “Lil-lets welcomes the Fair Data initiative. We speak with teenage girls and mums on a daily basis and value the importance of data integrity, which is critical to building trust between our brand and our consumers.”

Honor Mallon, Partner and Head of the International Survey Unit at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said: “Great research is defined by the quality of the data that informs it. If the UK is to lead the world in the business of evidence, we should welcome and embrace excellence in every aspect of data collection, interpretation and use.

“As a global player in insight and analytics and a long-time MRS Company Partner,PwC’s International Survey Unit is delighted to be one of its earliest supporters of MRS’s Fair Data initiative.”

Crispin Haywood, Shopper Science Director at GlaxoSmithKline, which is endorsing Fair Data, said: “Adopting a transparent approach to personal data is key in ensuring that research respondents feel confident that their data will be used in an ethical and responsible way. The Fair Data Principles provide a clear workable guideline for companies to adhere to and will undoubtedly help establish the right data management standards across the research industry.”

Hetan Shah, Executive Director, The Royal Statistical Society, said: "In a world awash with data it is more important than ever that organisations can demonstrate to the public that their data is collected and used ethically. The Fair Data initiative is an important step in making this happen."

Richard Jameson, Managing Director at research agency GfK NOP, said: “GfK NOP is very pleased to be a launch partner for the Fair Data initiative. We believe that the mark will help to develop the trust of our survey respondents when collecting their data, and that of our clients when handling their customer information and other sensitive data.

“In the era of “Big” data and “Smart” data, it is highly important to be able to give assurance that GfK NOP can meet the “Fair” data principles whilst remaining innovative.”

More details on Fair Data:

At the heart of the scheme, accredited Fair Data organisations agree to adhere to ten core principles, which will be supplemented by MRS’s advisory service to ensure organisations understand their obligations, and an audit process which will be mandatory for all client organisations that are not already MRS accredited. The advisory service will include face-to-face, telephone and e-mail support plus seminars on best practice.

For complaints, the MRS complaint and disciplinary procedures will apply for research organisations with MRS members and/or are MRS Company Partners. Members and Company Partners are accredited and regulated by MRS and sign up to the Code of Conduct. For those not already accredited by MRS, a third party audit, undertaken by Fair Data audit partner ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations), the industry-owned media auditor, will be required within 12 months of joining the scheme. In the case of any complaints, an audit may be required as part of the investigation.

Fair Data supports and complements other existing standards such as ISOs and the requirements of Data Protection legislation, and can be used internationally as well as in the UK. MRS’ launch of Fair Data comes amidst EU plans to update and strengthen data protection legislation – the EU Data Protection Directive. Click here for more information.