Most U.K. citizens don’t trust organisations and businesses with their personal data
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Most U.K. citizens don’t trust organisations and businesses with their personal data

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) conducted a study to see how U.K. citizens feel about their personal data being shared with organisations and businesses, and the results reflect an inherent mistrust and lack of confidence in how their data is being stored and handled.

The results of the study are likely to have been influenced by the colossal and numerous high-profile data breaches in the last couple of years that have seen millions of people have their personal data breached time and time again.

In the study, 2,153 adult U.K. citizens were interviewed online about their thoughts on data protection, and only one-in-five people trusted organisations and businesses when it came to storing and protecting their personal information.

According to Comres who carried out the research, the U.K. public are, overall, “more likely to trust public bodies than private companies or organisations regarding holding or sharing their personal information.”

This could be because the nature of public bodies requires a higher level of transparency than their private counterparts, but the U.K. public could be putting more trust in governmental institutions because they’re at least less likely to neglect data protection in favour of increasing profits.

The report also revealed that the older generations are more sceptical of organisations than younger U.K. adults. In the past few decades we have seen an exponential growth in technology, especially in digital communications and file-sharing. 

High-profile cyber-attacks reveal the vulnerable nature of digital files and the magnitude of risk in keeping millions of records in one place that can be accessed by one click. Older generations who are used to paper files could be forgiven for their mistrust in allowing their personal data to be added to huge digital databases…

Other statistics included:

  • 61% trust the NHS or their local GP to keep their information safe
  • 53% said the same about the police
  • 49% trusted organisations to do the same
  • Only 12% said they trust social media
  • Only 8% of participants said they understand how their personal data is shared with third parties and the public

Deputy ICO Commissioner, Steve Wood, said:

“As personal information becomes the currency by which society does business, organisations need to start making people’s data protection rights a priority. Putting data protection at the centre of digital business strategies is the key to improving trust and digital growth.”

Hopefully, organisations and businesses will take notice of this study and recognise that U.K. citizens lack of confidence in them with their personal data needs to be addressed.

Consumer trust and confidence is incredibly important for any organisation, and if any smart business wants to grow, data protection could prove to be a vital step that should never be overlooked.

The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) should provide a forceful helping hand for businesses and organisations to ramp-up their cybersecurity measures and general data protection standards. The GDPR is set to increase organisations’ responsibilities in disclosing data breaches, providing a strict 72-hour window to alert authorities.

The GDPR is also set to provide data protection bodies like the ICO with more power to sanction organisations for failing to keep data safe, misusing it or for poor responses to breaches. The ICO’s current maximum fine of £500,000 will be increased to 4% of the company’s total annual turnover or 20 million euros, whichever is the larger.

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