The DMA has urged the Information Commissioner’s Office to “seize the opportunity” to spearhead the debate over online profiling within the EU, arguing that a clampdown on the practice will see a return to “scatter gun marketing of a by-gone age”.
The demand comes in the industry body’s response to the ICO consultation on profiling under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) launched last month. The consultation, which closed on April 28, will form part of the guidelines being produced by the Article 29 Working Party – made up of all the data protection regulators of the EU member states.
The prospective changes, particularly a possible explicit consent requirement, will have a huge impact on how advertisers and those online services that provide consumer recommendations, structure their business models.
The DMA document states: “Restricting marketers’ profiling activity will result in companies understanding less about their customers. Companies that understand less about their customers will be unable to market effectively to them.
“The end result is mass, untargeted marketing. Customers could lose out on the benefits of receiving offers and vouchers for the products they like or product suggestions for things they’re likely to enjoy.”
The DMA is also at pains to stress that “an over-strict interpretation of the GDPR will have a negative impact on consumers, have economic consequences for the marketing industry and impact the UK economy more broadly”.
It maintains that it does not believe that “profiling for digital and direct marketing purposes has a legal or significant effect and we would ask that the ICO support this”.
Speaking to Decision Marketing, DMA managing director Rachel Aldighieri said: “We see businesses conducting their profiling through the prism of the DMA Code in order to give consumers ever-better service. Profiling can build not just a set of likes and dislikes, but nuance which can lead to better relevance. And we know from our annual email research that this is what consumers want.
“As the volume and variety of data expands, so does the complexity. Profiling helps to simplify these data-sets into something useful for brands, who can in turn be more useful for customers.”
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