EU watchdog: Data collection can't fly under 'user experience' flag

Big data projects run the risk of breaking EU data protection laws

Improving users' experiences is no justification for using consumer information in big data projects, according to Europe's top data protection officials.

The Article 29 Working Group, which includes the data protection supervisors from the European Union's 27 member states, said that consumers' "specific, explicit consent" is almost always required if companies want to use their information in big data projects.

In an opinion document adopted last week, the group stated that "vague or general purposes" such as "improved user experience", "marketing", "IT security" or "future research" are not, on their own, sufficiently specific enough to gain consent.

The newly published 70-page document (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2013/wp203_en.pdf#page=8&zoom=auto,0,276) sets out the rules that organszations must abide by if they want to use consumer data.

The group, which makes recommendations to the European Commission, defined big data as "gigantic digital datasets held by corporations, governments and other large organisations" that "relies on the increasing ability of technology to support the collection and storage of large amounts of data, but also to analyse, understand and take advantage of the full value of the data."

The argument in favour of big data projects is that they may ultimately lead to better and more informed decisions. The group cites examples such as health care, mobile communications, smart grid, traffic management and fraud detection, where the analysis of big data could have a positive impact. However it warned "consent should be required, for example, for tracking and profiling for purposes of direct marketing, behavioural advertisement, data-brokering, location-based advertising or tracking-based digital market research."

One of the central tenets of the document is the "reasonable expectations of the data subjects" as to the use of their data. So consent given for one process is for that reason alone.

The document also examined the use of public sector information and warned of a possible increase in government surveillance. This could be mitigated by anonymising data, it said.

European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes welcomed a decision by the E.U. Council's 'Coreper' committee to endorse a plan to open up public sector data for re-use across Europe. She was confident the European Parliament would also approve the plan in coming weeks.

"Opening up public data means opening up business opportunities, creating jobs and building communities," said Kroes. According to the Commission, wider availability of public data could boost economic activity by tens of billions of euros per year across the E.U.

Once fully implemented into national law, the revision of the 2003 Public Sector Information Directive would make all generally accessible public sector information, such as geographical data, statistics, meteorological data, data from publicly funded research projects and digitised books from libraries, available for re-use at zero or minimal cost.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

The rise of the conscious consumer

The concept of consumers boycotting brands and publishers isn’t a new one.

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

Cannes 2017: The Machines Are Here

It’s day 4 in Cannes and among the ever-growing divergent panels, presentations and workshops spanning from one end of the Croisette to the other, there has been a very real emergence of how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning needs to fit into the marketing ecosystem of today and tomorrow.

Aden Hepburn

Executive creative director and managing director, VML Australia

Is your content marketing missing the mark?

Does it ever seem like the content you create falls flat on its face or that the leads you’re generating aren’t worth following up?

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

One more start-up to disrupt the trucking industry. Well the market is hot. Uber Freight, Doft, Trucker Path... Still no one of these ube...

Sergey

Uber for the truckies: How one Aussie startup is disrupting the freight industry

Read more

Typo"claiming no other email service protects its users form spam, hacking and phishing as successfully as Gmail"I'm sure Google can help...

OlliesBlog

Google to stop scanning personal Gmail accounts for ad targeting

Read more

It is interesting. Rebrand is very good. Perhaps they should change the logo to something more modern. For example as it is - https://www...

David Hill

Grace Group undergoes first rebrand in 30 years to unify and contemporise

Read more

Hey Guys, just one small typo that changes a part of the story :“That was a really big step forward for our company because we didn’t hav...

Damian Young

Chobani tastes success with data analytics platform

Read more

This is amazing! Congratulations to Cochlear for continuing to lead innovation in every way!

Chris

How this marketing ops leader is lifting the automation ante at Cochlear

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in