According to a report by privacy management firm DataGrail, requests from people to businesses to modify or delete their data have increased by 72% over the past year.

DataGrail examined the data subject requests (DSRs) it processed on behalf of clients between January 1 and December 31, 2022. DSRs are formal requests made by an individual to a company to access, modify, or delete the personal data that the company possesses on them.

In 2022, the firm discovered 650 DSRs on average for every million identities, up from 377 in 2021. Identity is the term used to describe data related to a specific record of one individual at a business. The personal information of one customer is accounted for by a unique identity across various systems within an organization. More than 100 million consumer data make up the customer set.

Data privacy incidents made headlines in 2022, and businesses like Sephora were fined in the EU and the US. According to Daniel Barber, CEO of DataGrail, this might have raised consciousness and increased DSR requests. Further complicating matters and raising the possibility of FTC or Congress action to safeguard consumer privacy is the extensive use of generative AI, which operates without consumer consent. There may be a ripple effect on ad income as more people take control of their data.

According to Barber, “consumers’ desire for more control over their personal information gets stronger every day as people realize that privacy should be a human right, even if it is not currently federally protected. If for no other reason than the importance of gaining and preserving consumer trust and reputational capital, businesses will need to react quickly.

DSRs are brought on by overly aggressive email marketing efforts from companies that people have had only passing interactions with. Additionally, consumers may ask for their data to be deleted from companies that provide one-time services like weddings or school searches once they are no longer required.

DataGrail’s findings, according to an ad buyer at a major media agency who was not authorized to talk to the media about the subject, were consistent with internal DSRs received over the previous 12 months.

However, for this time span, less than 10% of such requests, including consumer opt-out requests, were made to Horizon Media in the United States.

Laura McElhinney, chief data officer at Horizon Media, said, “I am shocked at the 72%.” “That might be the case given that most of our consented data comes from loyalty schemes. Consumers are more apt to give their permission for a brand to use their data when that brand is providing value.

According to the report, 52% of the requests for personal information came from states other than California, including those that have not yet passed a privacy legislation. Even in locations where there are no privacy regulations, the majority of global corporations frequently have a pervasive DSR link at the bottom of their homepage.

This indicates that people are aware of privacy issues and anticipate it to become more prevalent, according to Barber.

The dataset from DataGrail contains data from businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to well-known household names that are openly traded.

Deletion requests rise

According to the report, requests to delete customer information kept by businesses outnumbered requests to access that information in 2022. There were 56% more deletion requests than entry requests for every one.

Barber believes that whenever a business sends out an email informing customers of changes to their privacy policies, it serves as a reminder of how customers’ data is used and prompts them to submit an access, erase, or opt-out request.

Costs and investment

According to the report, the expense of processing a DSR (deletion or access) doubled between 2021 and 2022. According to Gartner via DataGrail, processing a single DSR manually costs a business about $1,524.

For every million identities, physically processing access and deletion requests could cost businesses $648,000. According to the DataGrail report, this represents a rise of $409,000 for every million identities from 2021.

According to Barber, on average, 26 people are needed to handle one privacy request.

Horizon Media is able to control these expenses thanks to its investments in technology and automation for handling privacy requests.

According to McElhinney, “many companies haven’t yet invested in that technology and are manually managing [requests].” And that takes a lot of effort and money.

Transparency is key

Regardless of the technology, McElhinney said, handling people’s data, anonymization practices, and using it safely and competently are fundamental as the industry shifts to solutions to offset signal loss, such as data clean rooms.

According to Barber, marketers may experience a rise in the use of ad blockers, a reduction in targeting options due to the expense of DSRs, a switch to contextual advertising that will affect ad income, and the expansion of privacy-focused platforms.

Companies may “change their practices, or they may align around some general set of privacy-forward principles,” according to Barber, who also noted that this will have an impact on the volume, nature, and sharing of the data that marketers receive.


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