Marketing and advertising agencies have a mountain to climb when it comes to gaining consumers’ trust in handling their personal data, with a new report suggesting just 2% of people believe their information is safe in agencies’ hands.
A consumer survey commissioned by the Open Data Institute (ODI), and published in following a new data entente cordiale between the UK and France, reveals that attitudes towards sharing personal data vary across Europe.
The research reveals huge disparities between countries regarding which information people felt comfortable sharing, and with whom. Two surveys – one for the UK in November 2017 and one which included France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in April 2018, were conducted online by YouGov and the data has been published here under an open licence.
Out of all sectors, including financial services, charities, retails and social media firms, agencies came rock bottom. Only 2% of people in both the UK and France trust them with their data, and only a 3% average score overall for European markets not including the UK.
Social media providers such as Facebook and Instagram also score universally badly. Only 5% in France and 10% in the UK trust them with data – an issue which has been exposed even further by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Trust fell even lower in Germany at just 3%, with Belgium and the Netherlands scoring 8%. The two countries show similar trust levels in family and friends – 55% in France and 57% in the UK.
There is also consistently very low trust in the way retailers use data, with France being the most cautious. Online retailers were only trusted by 11% in France, compared to 22% in the UK (the highest score across all countries). However, there is even less trust in offline retailers such as high street shops, with only 8% in France and 10% in the UK saying they trust them. This mistrust pervaded everywhere with average trust scores for all five countries being 16% for online retailers and 10% for shops.
Wide disparities occurred in banking, with the UK far more confident in sharing data with banks, building societies and credit card companies (57%) and insurance providers (32%) than France where the percentages are 31% and 27% respectively.
The ODI says this may be accounted for by the different international approaches to data sharing within the industry, with the UK being the first country to implement an Open Banking Standard with strong support from central government.
There are also large discrepancies in trust in healthcare providers, with 64% of people in the UK trusting the healthcare providers (which in the UK includes the NHS) compared to only 35% of people in France. The country with the highest trust in healthcare providers is the Netherlands, which at 71% is twice as high as in France, the lowest scoring country. Medical research charities scored lower in both countries with only 15% in France and 24% in the UK.
Knowledge of an organisation also makes a difference. The UK is slightly more comfortable than France about sharing data with organisations in most aspects, although people in France appear to be more comfortable sharing relationship status and medical records as well as life data.
In addition, France is generally more comfortable than the UK in sharing data with an organisation they don’t know in all aspects except information regarding name, ethnicity and religion.
ODI chief executive Dr Jeni Tennison said: “The survey reveals a complex and evolving relationship with data, which varies across countries. Trust in organisations remains a key issue across the EU, but it is good to know that many people are thinking actively about data when deciding which type of data they are comfortable sharing, and which organisations they are happy to share information about themselves with.
“This illustrates the need for greater data literacy globally – consumers should be able to understand data not as an abstract concept but as something that relates to their lives and the decisions they make every day, whether managing their bank accounts or utility bills, shopping online or using public transport.”
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