Most marketing staff have lost personal data

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The Independent Online

Three out of five marketing staff have lost customers' confidential data in the past two years, according to a survey.

A report for the data protection firm StrongMail and the privacy think tank the Ponemon Institute says that 61 per cent of marketing staff surveyed admit to having lost, or had stolen, confidential customer data over the past 24 months. In 90 per cent of these cases the customer is never informed that their data has been lost or stolen.

Some of the increasing insecurity of data is because of the trend to outsourcing marketing and IT activities to third parties, especially those related to marketing by email. Marketers strongly believe that the data breach caused the loss of existing and potential customers.

According to the 500 marketing professionals surveyed, businesses are routinely passing personal and confidential details about customers to third parties to help them win sales. The study indicates that one in 14 reveals customer's sexual orientation; one in 10 exposes religious beliefs; one in seven passes on information on ethnic background; and one in five companies admits passing on credit card details.

In general, however, marketers and data protection staff are confident that their organisations comply with privacy laws and regulations. Some 87 per cent of data protection professionals and 69 per cent of marketers agreed in the survey that their organisations obey the law.