This letter was written by Jane Frost, Chief Executive of MRS, and published in the Financial Times on 14 September 2021.

For those of us in the market research sector, the UK government’s proposal to reform data protection laws, and in particular remove the right to have a human review of automated decisions, is concerning (“Britain’s plan to ditch EU data rule on AI decision-making rings alarm bells”, FT report, September 10).

The market research sector in the UK is worth approximately £7bn and is the second largest in the world after the US. Informed consent is the basis of public faith in our industry and gives us our licence to operate. This includes the right to submit and have personal data assessed by algorithms on the understanding that decisions can be appealed and referred to a person if requested. If this were to be removed or restricted it would undermine confidence in data use, thereby damaging associated sectors across the country. This includes the UK’s world-leading market research industry which relies on people being confident enough in the system to share their data.

The Market Research Society, acting on behalf of the UK’s market research sector, helped to shape current EU rules because we recognised the fundamental importance of this principle, enshrined in Article 22. Innovative thinking is welcome, but not at the expense of fundamental rights.

Jane Frost

Chief Executive, Market Research Society London EC1, UK

Subscribers to the Financial Times can read the letter here.

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