Consumers taking action over mistrust of organisations handling personal data

A survey of data protection attitudes in the UK has shown consumers are taking matters into their own hands to protect their personal data.

The survey, commissioned by the ICO, the UK's independent data protection regulator, shows only one in four people trust businesses with their personal information.

But it also shows consumers have a clear awareness of the action they can take to protect their own personal data. Seven in ten regularly check bank and credit card statements for irregular activity, while more than half also keep their computer protected from viruses, shred personal documents, use different passwords for different online services and limit how much info they share on social media.

The survey shows that while 53% of people said they trusted High Street banks with their information, that dropped to 36% for Government departments, 32% for High Street retailers and 22% for internet brands.

People’s concerns were focused on their information being stolen by criminals, used to make nuisance calls or sold to other companies for marketing.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said:

Consumers are taking up the fight to protect their own personal data. We all need the services offered to us by banks and shops and internet companies, even if we are perhaps not entirely trusting of what they are doing with our data, and so consumers are taking their own action to respond to that.

“This ought to be a real wake up call to some sectors. Consumer mistrust is never good for business.

“What’s more, if these customers’ concerns are well-placed, and organisations aren’t handling personal data properly they may be leaving themselves open to significant fines from the regulator.

“We’ve issued fines of more than £6million for data protection offences so far, and that’s only going to rise. New rules in place from 2018 give us the power to fine up to 4% of global turnover, which ought to focus the minds of any boardroom.

"There’s increasing evidence of consumers taking steps to avoid aggressive marketing. Our survey shows that concerns around people’s information being used to market products to them ranks as one of the top consumer worries.

“We know people are responding to the nuisance of spam calls and texts, because we receive a wealth of complaints about these to our office every day, and have been able to take action amounting to more than £2million of fines in the past year.

“But the survey also shows action elsewhere, notably a quarter of people using ad blockers when they go online.”

The survey also showed:

  • A quarter of people have installed an ad blocker on their web browser or smartphone. 
  • 75% of people think it’s important that data protection is taught in schools.
  • More than one in ten people (13%) have requested a copy of their data from organisations.
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Team @ AberdareOnline

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