ICO publishes GDPR profiling discussion paper

07 Apr 2017 News

The Information Commissioner has published a discussion paper on profiling under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and has called on stakeholders to submit feedback.

The discussion paper, called Profiling under the GDPR: feedback request was published by the ICO yesterday. In an accompanying blog on the ICO’s website, the data protection watchdog’s interim head of policy, Jo Pedder, said the paper represented the organisation’s “initial thoughts on this topic under the GDPR, which introduces stricter provisions to protect individuals from this type of data processing”.

“Profiling can be a powerful tool for organisations and can benefit individuals, the economy and society generally. It can help organisations to understand and target audiences more effectively and is used to make decisions about people, but these can have a significant and sometimes detrimental effect on individuals,” said Pedder.

The paper deals with subjects including “marketing, the right to object and data minimisation” under future GDPR legislation.

The ICO said it will accept submissions on this topic until 28 April 2017.

Working party prioritised profiling for guidance

In its request for feedback, the ICO said that the EU GDPR working party, in which it plays a role, “identified profiling as an area of concern” across the data protection landscape and has prioritised the issue for guidance.

The ICO said this particular paper is not guidance, but is instead a request for feedback from various stakeholders, as well as a chance to provide “examples of best practice”.

The paper addresses ten areas where existing legislation around profiling would change under GDPR, and sets out corresponding questions in regards to that change and how it will affect stakeholders.  

The paper also defines a number of sources of profiling, including the use of “internet search and browsing history; education and professional data and financial and payment data”, and reiterated that while “organisations may perceive profiling to be beneficial” that does not “make it fair. Nor does it remove the requirement to inform an individual about the processing and how to exercise their rights”.

IoF say research beneficial to both charity and donor

Issues around what does and does not constitute lawful profiling of data under the new GDPR legislation and the ICO’s recent stricter interpretations of existing data protection law around the issue have proved contentious in recent months.

The Institute of Fundraising recently published a survey of its members which found that 90 per cent of respondents believe that conducting research of donors prior to contacting them “enabled fundraisers to enhance the experience offered to donors”.

At the time Mike Smith, head of media and public affairs, at the membership body also told Civil Society News that the IoF was working with the Information Commissioner to explain “why doing research as part of fundraising is so important not just for the charity, but because it can improve the donor experience as well, which is vital.”

However, in the wake of this week’s rulings against 11 charities for breaches of the Data Protection Act, a number of sources in the data protection community have said the ICO “has no intention whatsoever of backing down on their position about profiling and wealth screening, despite the case being made loudly by fundraisers that it really has a beneficial, rather than an adverse, effect on data subjects”.

Interested parties can read the paper in full here

Civil Society Media is hosting two breakfast seminars discussing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) ahead of its introduction in May 2018. Booking is now open on both events: click here to book for May and click here to book for June



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