Consumers Distrust Businesses With Personal Data

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Where has the trust gone? Businesses no longer trusted when it comes to handling people’s personal data

A new report from Digital Catapult has revealed the scale of distrust that now exists between consumers and big businesses about people’s personal data.

The trend is worrying as it could hinder the delivery of digital services and business growth, but is perhaps not surprising given the ongoing breaches of people’s personal data at many large companies.

Personal Data

The report comes from Digital Catapult, a national centre that seeks to advance the UK’s best digital ideas. It explored the opinions of about 4,000 UK consumers about trust in the use of their personal data.

Among the worrying trends, the report found that 60 percent of consumers admitted they were uncomfortable sharing personal data. Indeed, 14 percent of consumers now refuse to share any personal data at all.

And such is that the level of distrust now with businesses, over two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents revealed they are “unsure if data is being shared without their consent”. The retail and media industries seems to be the most distrusted, with 30 percent of respondents stating the retail sector is most guilty of using personal data without being clear they are doing so.

When asked who they most trust with their data, the public sector led the way with 44 percent of the vote while telecoms came bottom of the pile with just 2 percent.

privacyAnd it seems that consumers have a high degree of cynicism about the motivation of businesses, with 79 percent of people believing the main use of their personal data is for organisations’ economic gain.

Meanwhile 76 percent of people are concerned that they have “no control over how data is shared or who it is shared with”. And 94 percent of respondents stated they want more control over their data.

“The sharing of personal data is vital to the improvement of digital services and the development of new ones,” said Neil Crockett, CEO of the Digital Catapult. “Every digital service reaches a point where it must overcome a hurdle. This is often associated with data, whether that is in the opening up of closed datasets or use of consumer information.”

“To deliver the best digital services and drive economic growth, we must ensure they trust businesses to use their information in the right way,” said Crockett. “In doing this we not only create new and more productive citizen and consumer digital solutions, we give the UK a real chance in being a leader in a new wave of digital tools and approaches to solve a global problem.”

Consumers (43 percent) said they will only share information if it it was clear that it would be used to improve society, such as providing useful healthcare or educational data. But factor in cold hard cash, and then a quarter (21 percent) of those surveyed said monetary gain would most convince them to share their personal data. A majority of people (61 percent) said their information should be worth at least £30pcm (per calender month).

“Building trust in the use of personal data is the responsibility of every digital stakeholder if the UK is going to open up the full opportunity in digital,” said Crockett. “Businesses need and will benefit from consumer data but the public doesn’t understand why they should share it. To address this, organisations need to be honest, open and transparent about when and why data is being used.”

Trust Issues

This latest survey mirrors previous surveys about trust and personal data.

In May a survey by GBG found that most consumers now deliberately provide the wrong information when asked for personal details

And a previous Symantec study in February found that one in three of Brits had provided false information online in order to safeguard their privacy. And over half (53 percent) avoid posting personal data online in order to stay safe.

In April a consumer survey found that 74 percent of people were happy to share location based data with third parties, but 72 percent felt far better regulation was required to ensure such data is used responsibly.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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