A new report from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has concluded that GDPR isn’t working when it comes to consumers’ Right to Privacy online.

A key concern is the nature of the consent provided by consumers surrounding the use of their personal data for commercial gain by private companies. It concludes that the vast majority of privacy policies are too complex for most people to understand. It believes that consumers realise that they are giving their permission for their details to be used in exchange for receiving ‘free content’, but probably aren’t aware that this information is then compiled across sites to build a profile. Shockingly it cites specific examples such as the use of eye tracking software to determine whether the internet user is drunk or has taken drugs and then this information being added to their profile.

The Committee also believes that it is almost impossible for consumers to find out what they have consented to and where their data has been shared. Also stopping their data from being shared or getting inaccurate data about themselves corrected or deleted is also a herculean task.

The overall conclusion of the report is that the online consent model is fundamentally broken. The Committee is calling on the Government to ensure there is robust regulation over how data can be collected and used and wants better enforcement of that regulation. It recommends a single online registry that would allow people to see, in real time, all the companies that hold personal data on them, and what data they hold and how it is used.

Clearly reform for online data sharing is not far off and this will have a significant impact on how organisations can communicate with their customers via the Internet. Whilst digital marketing will always be a fundamental part of the marketing mix, traditional channels, such as direct mail where consent is cut and dry, will become an easier communication mechanism for brands. GDPR might not be working online but research shows that it is having a positive impact on advertising mail as consumers become increasingly receptive to the medium.