Data protection


In order to carry out the C-Mex and D-Mex surveys, Ofwat, as controller, commissions research undertaken by our market research agents who operate as our processors. The lawful basis that Ofwat relies on for this processing is that it is necessary for the performance of our tasks carried out in the public interest (article 6(e) of the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (“GDPR”)) – in this case, the review of the experience of customers and developers allows us to assess companies’ performance against the relevant performance commitments as part of our implementation and enforcement of our price controls (under Condition B of companies’ instruments of appointment and Section 11 of the Water Industry Act 1991).

We use our regulatory powers to require companies to provide our market research agents with contact details for customers and developers who have recently had contact with their water company. The categories of data they are required to provide are: the customer’s account/unique reference number, name, telephone number, postal address, email address (where the customer has had digital contact), the reason that the customer had contact with the company, via what medium (phone, post, email, webform, social media etc.) and on what date, and whether or not the contact was in relation to a complaint.

The market research agents then contact these individuals via either telephone or email to conduct a survey in relation to their experience with their water company. We only ask our agents to share customers’ personal data with us in exceptional circumstances; our standard practice is to ask agents to collate the feedback about the companies’ performance and present it to Ofwat in pseudonymised form (i.e. personal identifiers are replaced with artificial identifiers but these are still considered personal data under GDPR) as a privacy-enhancing measure. Where customers do not object, we share the feedback from those contacted via the C-Mex or D-Mex surveys with their respective water company, so that water company can improve its customer service and check to make sure that we have accurately recorded customer survey feedback. Customers can object to us sharing their feedback for this purpose at the time the survey is carried out.

As with all Ofwat’s contracts with third party processors, our contract with our market research agents includes contractual safeguards to ensure protection of personal data and compliance with the GDPR. For more information about our market research agents and how we handle personal data more generally, please see our Privacy Policy.