New figures from the ICO reveal that complaints regarding data breaches have increased by 160 per cent since GDPR was introduced almost 100 days ago.

Whilst this is a significant rise, it is unsurprising. As a result of consumer education campaigns surrounding GDPR, people are now more aware of their rights when it comes to data and due to human nature a proportion will want to exercise those rights.

Whilst this is a headache for the ICO it shows that GDPR is working. The whole point of the new directive was to give consumers increased control over their personal information and ensure that organisations are more responsible when it comes to their customer data. In fact a separate report by SAS reveals that 55% of UK consumers will exercise their GDPR rights within a year and almost two-thirds will retract or review data use because of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. Eighty-eight per cent of UK consumers were found to be aware of the scandal and, of those, 72% said it had caused them to retract data permissions, plan to share less data or review how companies use their personal information.

The report revealed that consumers treat data-sharing as a matter of trust and have a low tolerance for data mistakes or misuse, such as having their data shared with third parties without consent (which accounts for the rise in complaints to the ICO). Almost half (45%) said they would activate their data rights after only one mistake. However, it wasn’t all bad news, the study found that companies could win customers back by respecting data privacy and consent. Customers are most trusting of organisations that promise they will not share data with third parties (39%) or will not misuse their data (36%).

As time passes GDPR will become the norm and the number of complaints will likely settle back to more manageable figures but this will not be an excuse for organisations to start to relax. GDPR compliance is not a nice to have, it’s a must have and compliance will increasingly form the backbone of the customer relationship.