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Fair Data mark launched to identify responsible data protection

28 Jan 2013 News

The Market Research Society has today launched a kitemark to identify organisations which collect and use personal data ethically.

The Market Research Society has today launched a kitemark to identify organisations which collect and use personal data ethically.

The Fair Data mark is aimed at all organisations that collect personal data, including consumer organisations, suppliers of data and research and public and government bodies. The Society (MRS) hopes that it will help members of the public identify organisations that collect and hold personal data in a responsible way.

When organisations sign up to the mark they agree to ten core principles, including ensuring that it gets consent before collecting data and making sure that people have access to their personal data. (Click here to jump to the full list)

While the mark is free for MRS members and company partners, as they are considered already compliant with the principles through following the MRS code of conduct, other organisations wanting to use the mark will be asked to undertake an initial advisory visit to ensure they have appropriate procedures, costing £1,000 per day. If they fail the first visit and want another it will cost £500 per day.

Further to this cost organisations will be required to pay £350 per year for accreditation. An audit process will be set up and will be mandatory for all those that are not MRS-accredited. There will also be an adviser service to help organisations understand the principles – this will include face-to-face support, telephone and email support and seminars on best practice.

The accreditation has launched with eight partners signed up to the scheme: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Lil-lets, GfK NOP, Research Now, Millward Brown, Facts International, Opinion Leader and Chime Insight.

Jane Frost CBE, MRS chief executive, said: “Public concern is at an all-time high and we are getting increasing numbers of complaints about data use.”

The association for market research companie, worked with the Information Commissioner’s Office to develop and launch the mark, which is intended to complement existing standards and data protection legislation. The initiative is also supported by the Royal Statistical Society.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said: “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.”

Fair Data principles


  1. We will ensure that all personal data is collected with customers’ consent
  2. We will not use personal data for any purpose other than that for which consent was given, respecting customers’ wishes about the use of their data
  3. We will make sure that customers have access to their personal data that we hold, and that we tell them how we use it
  4. We will protect personal data and keep it secure and confidential
  5. We will ensure staff understand that personal data is just that – personal – and ensure that it is treated with respect
  6. We will ensure that the vulnerable and under-age are properly protected by the processes we use for data collection
  7. We will manage our data supply chain to the same ethical standards we expect from other suppliers
  8. We will ensure that ethical best practice in personal data is integral to our procurement process
  9. We will ensure that all staff who have access to personal data are properly trained in its use
  10. We will not use personal data if there is uncertainty as to whether the Fair Data principles have been applied.


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