Fair Data – Who is it for?


The Market Research Society  have today (Data Privacy Day ) launched the introduction of their mark  which they hope “helps consumers recognise who they can trust.”

“Accreditation is available to:

  • Consumer organisations – You can show customers you are ethical, transparent and responsible, by displaying a badge that is as recognisable and trusted as the Fairtrade mark. This in turn will reinforce your corporate responsibility programme and generate goodwill for your customer brand.
  • Suppliers of research and data - You can instantly show your clients that you adhere to the highest standards of data collection, processing and use. Buyers want to do business with trusted suppliers who share their values. Fair Data says to any company using your data or commissioning your research that they can do so with complete confidence. To respondents, you can remove any concerns they might have about engaging in and supporting your research.
  • Public/government bodies – You can ensure that the public trusts and engages with your social research. You can ensure the evidence you need to base your important policy decisions on is reliable. Equally you can quickly show your supply chain what your values are.”

It’s clearly aimed at larger companies, organisations and bodies websites. Amongst those mentioned who have already signed up are Lil-Lets and the pwc International Survey Unit although we couldn’t see any sign of the mark up on their sites yet!

The ten Fair Data Principles that you have to sign up to break down into 8 positive we will’s:

  1. ensure that all personal data is collected with customers’ consent
  2. make sure that customers have access to their personal data that we hold, and that we tell them how we use it
  3. protect personal data and keep it secure and confidential
  4. ensure staff understand that personal data is just that – personal – and ensure that it is treated with respect
  5. ensure that the vulnerable and under-age are properly protected by the processes we use for data collection
  6. manage our data supply chain to the same ethical standards we expect from other suppliers
  7. ensure that ethical best practice in personal data is integral to our procurement process
  8. ensure that all staff who have access to personal data are properly trained in its use

and a couple of  negative “We will not use personal data”:

  1. for any purpose other than that for which consent was given, respecting customers’ wishes about the use of their data
  2. if there is uncertainty as to whether the Fair Data Principles have been applied.

Of course the real answer to “Who is it for?” is the individual consumer and their chief protector The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham  is generally supportive:

“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.”

We concur with the first part of his quote but it seems likely that it’s applicability will be rather narrow and we are pretty sure we won’t see the likes of  Facebook and Twitter or many SME’s signing up!

We think there’s a consumer demand for a much wider mark covering a much more diverse field on an international basis.

Mention of Facebook, Twitter and marks raises, we think, another key point. The actual mark itself.

Instant recognition is critical & we think comes through both distinctiveness and familiarity. Also the current vogue seems to suggest at least some blue is required!

The Fair Data mark, which incidentally on the Market Research Society site still comes with the old TM which an Intellectual Property Office guru told us last week  still stands for “Totally Meaningless” although on the IPO site it seems to have been registered last year scores we reckon about 5/10 on the distinctiveness front. Familiarity will we believe be an issue. It’s also slightly reminiscent of the All Things D logo

The Fairtrade logo just doesn’t do it for us – not quite sure why – perhaps it’s the green!

Our old favourites are the British Standard Institute‘s  Kitemark and the Woolmark. Simple, distinctive, and historically widely used and recognised.

So on the BSI front with some blue (royal?) and a clever number perhaps we think that just might be the way forward to a secure mark at least! Alternatively a licencing arrangement ala the Woolmark Company, incorporating a completely new logo could be a realistic option.





Fair Data Press release

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