Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s personal crusade to persuade companies to improve data transparency appears to have hit a brick wall after the latest ICO tracking study showed that consumer trust in how firms handle personal information has plummeted over the past year.
According to the regulator’s 2017 Trust & Confidence in Data report, only a fifth of the UK public (20%) have trust and confidence in companies and organisations storing their personal information. This is down from 25% in 2016.
These are worrying times for data-driven marketing practitioners. Earlier this week, an Amaze One study predicted that a fifth of consumers will refuse to part with their personal details by 2018, on top of the third of consumers (32%) who are currently reluctant to share more than their name and email address.
Other findings from the ICO survey show widespread ignorance among British adults over how their personal data is being used by companies and organisations in the UK, with only one in ten (10%) saying they have a good understanding of the process.
The survey, conducted by ComRes on behalf of the ICO, is designed as benchmark measurement for the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan 2017-2021, Denham’s mission statement. One of the ICO’s main strategic goals over the next four years is to increase the UK public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and made available. If these findings are anything to go by, the regulator faces a mammoth task.
Other findings reveal a major disconnect between which organisations consumers trust and which are most trustworthy.
Interestingly, UK citizens are more likely to trust public bodies than private companies or organisations regarding holding or sharing their personal information.
Three in five (61%) say they have trust and confidence in the NHS or local GP to store and use their personal information while half say the same of the police (53%) or national government departments and organisations (49%). However, UK public bodies top the league table for data breaches.
Meanwhile, fewer than one in ten (8%) of UK adults say they have a good understanding of how their personal data is made available to third parties and the public by companies and organisations in the UK.
Older UK adults are more likely than their younger counterparts to say they have little trust and confidence in companies and organisations storing and using their personal information.
ICO deputy 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 businesses strategies is the key to improving trust and digital growth.
“Changes to data protection legislation, which include the introduction of the GDPR, offer organisations an opportunity to re-engage with their customers about data. The new laws require organisations to be more accountable for data protection and this is a real commitment to putting the consumer at the heart of business.
“By now organisations should be aware of the changes to data protection law next May. It’s no longer acceptable to see the law as a box ticking exercise. Organisations will need to be accountable, to their customers and to the regulator.
“We want to see improvements in these figures. It’s time for organisations to start building the UK public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and made available.”
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