More than half of UK consumers have taken action to reduce or review the amount of data a company holds on them since the introduction of the general data protection regulation (GDPR), a new study has revealed.

The findings place added pressure on businesses to exercise their requirements to proactively protect consumer data to avoid hefty fines.

The research, published by business intelligence and data management firm SAS, reveals that while 31 per cent have already activated their rights over personal data, a further 55 per cent plan to do so within a year.

Under GDPR, businesses are required to take a number of steps to protect the privacy and security of consumer data, with a focus on transparency, consent and cybersecurity.

Failure to follow the new rules set out in the regulation can result in significant fines, spanning up to 20 million euros of four per cent of annual global turnover, whichever of both is highest.

The study suggests that recent events – such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal – may have led to a sea change in the way consumers share their data

According to the research, some 88 per cent of UK consumers say they were aware of the Facebook scandal, and 72 per cent of those said it had caused them to act on data permissions, such as reducing the amount of information it allows a company to store on them.

David Smith, head of GDPR technology at SAS UK and Ireland, said: “Organisations have only one chance to get GDPR right. UK customers are embracing their new data rights faster than expected, making now a dangerous time for companies scrambling to achieve GDPR parity.

“Businesses that fail to respect their customers or their data risk losing both, sacrificing their competitive advantage and hurting the bottom line. Transparent data management and analytics are crucial, not only to achieve compliance, but to provide personalised customer experiences that make consumers more willing to share their data.”

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