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Customers increasingly aware of data rights

Businesses will need to realise the commercial importance of handling customer data correctly in order to succeed in 2013, the head of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said that consumers are showing an increasingly strong awareness of how their data should be handled, affecting their attitude towards businesses.

The comments follow an ICO study which found 97 per cent of individuals are concerned that organisations will either pass or sell on their personal details.

However, only 10 per cent of businesses are aware of the legal restrictions when it comes to using their customers' personal data.

More than half (53 per cent) of individuals considered minor details, such as the products they had bought, to be personal information.

Christopher Graham said: "Education and empowerment have been two of the key areas we've focused on in the past twelve months. That work is having real benefits: consumers' awareness of their rights remains strong, and that is empowering people to demand more in return for their data."

"The result is consumers expecting organisations to handle their personal data in a proper way, and in a legal way. Businesses that don't meet that basic requirement are going to quickly find themselves losing customers."

"The message to business is simple: consumers understand the value of their personal data, and they expect you to too."