Clear as mud: Brits in dark over what firms do with data

data_newbieIndustry efforts to promote data transparency appear to be falling on deaf ears, with the majority of Brits oblivious to how their personal information is used by companies, and just one in 20 fully aware of what is going on behind the scenes.

So says a new global study from Publicis Sapient, which measured consumer sentiment and sensitivity around data privacy among just over 5,000 consumers across the US, UK, Australia, France and Germany between June and August.

It found that 65% of those in the UK are clueless about what companies do with their information, with just 6% considering themselves fully in the know about the issue. Globally 61% are in the dark as to where their data ends up.

When asked, nearly half (49%) of Brits said that prior confirmation that a company would not sell or share personal data was a greater incentive to share than the right to delete (even though this is already enshrined in data protection law).

The survey suggested a connection between a person’s familiarity with data and their willingness to share; two-fifths (40%) of Brits who understood what companies did with their information were more receptive to such requests.

When asked about technology as a whole, UK consumers were broadly enthusiastic, with nearly two-thirds (64%) believing it to have a positive impact on their lives – higher than the 58% figure recorded internationally.

As far as data sharing is concerned, however, nearly half 48% are again concerned that sharing can be harmful.

In line with previous research into data privacy, the older the consumer, the more worried they are about data sharing; some 55% of Baby Boomers (those aged 56 and over) view the practice with scepticism, compared with 46% of Generation X (aged 40 to 55), 43% of Millennials (aged 23 to 39) and 32% of Generation Z (aged under 23).

This is partly attributed to the perceived value Brits place on their data, with 42% considering their data to be worth more than any services they receive in exchange.

When it comes to biometric data, just 16% of Brits were happy to share this information, but they do feel more comfortable sharing data such as race/ethnicity (48%), contact information (29%) and location (28%).

UK consumers were found to be more willing to hand over their data to financial services companies than any other sector, including retail, health and transport. Then again, in many cases they have to anyway.

Publicis Sapient customer data platform practice lead Max Kirby said: “Our research indicates that privacy sensitivity is emerging as a new form of personalisation, reflecting how a business approaches a high-privacy sensitivity customer versus a low-sensitivity customer.

“To detect a customer’s level of privacy-sensitivity, identities must be resolved across multiple data sources using a customer data platform in tandem with a consent management system.”

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