We’ve all received an unsolicited phone call or email from PPI companies purporting to seek compensation on our behalf for mis-sold insurance on loans we’d probably forgotten we’d taken out. Nuisance that these calls are, it has seen financial institutes pay out over £37bn since the early 2000s. And, as myself and an increasing number of others are predicting, a similar GDPR compensation crisis is gathering like a storm that could be costlier still.
Although I touched on the topic in my article The GDPR PPI Paradox, which theorised that a similar approach as taken by these PPI ‘ambulance chasers’ would not be possible, as these calls would be part of the same problem it is trying to solve, that will not stop what is likely to become a terrifying prospect for all businesses.
For starters, there is the ever-growing number of solicitors advertising ‘no win no fee’ data protection services. Last time I checked on Google there were nearly 3,000 of them. Even if they aren’t able to cold call people, there is clearly a desire from consumers to take action.
Then there is the recent news of a OnePoll study. After surveying 2,000 UK consumers in May 2017 it found that 48% plan to make use of new rights over their personal data. It also found that 33% say they would exercise the right to have their personal data removed, while 24% would access the data that retail companies hold about them.
Yes, many consumers are not particularly diligent when it comes to handing over their data (Wi-Fi provider Purple recently had 22,000 people unwittingly agree to spend 1,000 hours cleaning festival toilets after they all failed to read the T&Cs when they signed up for the service). However, this only highlights that overly-complicated opt-ins could be just as likely to see organisations fall the wrong side of data protection laws as failing to provide one at all.
Making matters worse is that businesses seem to be woefully prepared for the changes. With less than a year to become GDPR compliant, one survey found that nearly half of all organisations surveyed are not even compliant with existing data protection laws – introduced in 1998 – let alone GDPR!
The General Data Protection Regulation White Paper
A Practical Guide for Businesses
- The global scope of GDPR
- Changes to consent, processing and profiling
- The new rights for data subject
- Guidelines for Data Protection Officers
- Liabilities, penalties and enforcements
Put yourself in consumer shoes for a moment. How many websites, services, newsletters, and so on do you think you have provided your personal details to over the years? What would it be – hundreds? Thousands? Even if you could only claim £10 from each company that couldn’t prove you opted-on, times that tenner by a couple of hundred and that’s a tempting incentive to take action.
Imagine a scenario where people use a service like Have I Been Pwnd? to find every instance where their email is subscribed. Then give them a simple reclaim tool (like the DIY PPI claim forms on the Money Saving Expert website). They could be sending out mass Subject Access Requests every day. Even the DMA reckon that “winning a data protection case will be easier for consumers [than PPI], and therefore their claims may be more prevalent.”
So, even if a fraction of the 64 million adults in the UK claim £10 from 100 companies who have transgressed data protection laws, well, that’s already quite a lot of money, even before you factor in the labour costs of processing each request. Or the fines from the ICO for breaking GDPR laws…
You may think I am banging this drum a lot. By all means, call me a scaremonger. But even if one company sits up and listens – for starters, by creating a Single Customer View and assessing their GDPR compliance – then that could save them millions, and do something to nip this potential nightmare at the bud.
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