Balancing exploitation of data against consumer rights

The PL&B and Wedlake Bell workshop, Harnessing Data, Valuing Privacy, debated the market drive to harness data, typical interpretation of the UK GDPR that aids the harnessing of data, the value of data, regulatory objectives and significant government reform in this area of law. By Laura Linkomies.

Data value drives increased data collection, and new technologies push the boundaries of law and ethics. Alex Dittel, Partner at Wedlake Bell spoke about how harnessing data can be seen in the context of compliance and regulatory risk. He gave examples of how data is used in a way that surprises consumers, for example in real time bidding, smart energy, web scraping, online tracking, and modern analytics.

Organisations often use privacy preserving techniques and conclude that no personal data is processed, or they ask for consent but it may be too broad, or they switch to using legitimate interest ground midway, or they rely on a wide interpretation of contractual necessity. Often the data controller “anonymises” data albeit imperfectly, and continues to use it, Dittel said.

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