While some MPs appear to have nothing better to do than demonise the direct marketing industry, a new cross-party Parliamentary group is taking a more positive approach by ensuring the benefits of big data and data analysis – key tenets of DM practice – are shared by business, consumers and government alike.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics is the brain-child of Cambridge Labour MP Daniel Zeichner, whose first job after graduating from King’s College, Cambridge, was as a trainee computer programmer.
Zeichner went on to work in IT for a number of companies, including Philips in East Chesterton and at Perkins Engines in Peterborough.
The new group, which will look at the policy implications of the fast-developing data market, has been backed by Experian, Rolls-Royce, Comparethemarket.com, TechUK, the CBI, Lloyds Banking Group and Arm Holdings.
It also has support from academics from Imperial College London and Cambridge University, and privacy groups Big Brother Watch and Privacy International.
Chaired by Zeichner, the group includes Parliamentary officers from across the political spectrum, including the Earl of Erroll (Crossbench), Ben Howlett MP (Conservative), Calum Kerr MP (SNP), Lord Knight of Weymouth (Labour), Lord Oates (Liberal Democrat), Lord Sutherland of Houndwood (Crossbench), Stephen Timms MP (Labour) and Matt Warman MP (Conservative).
Zeichner said: “With big data comes big opportunities, but also big challenges for policy makers. Done right, businesses will prosper, we will be able to make smarter decisions and empower people.
“But traps also lie in wait when we try to understand the world through data and ethical and privacy concerns are only going to rise as this technological revolution continues. We know big data means changes for businesses and customers, I also think it requires big ideas from policy makers.”
Earlier this week it was revealed that MPs were using the committee stage of the Digital Rights Bill to turn the £15bn DM sector into a public pariah, with one even claiming that “people the length and breadth of this country are sick and fed up of direct marketing”.
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