The UK’s move towards a digital-first society risks being slowed because of public concerns over the use of personal data, a new report has found.
The sharing of personal data is both crucial for innovation and also improving personal online experiences, which is only made possible through tailoring services based on unique data.
But while we live in a connected society, and give out information about ourselves dozens of times a day on social media or by using online services, the ongoing sharing and use of that data is still creating significant unease among consumers.
The Trust in Personal Data UK review by Digital Catapault set out to assess the UK’s progress on the way to becoming a data-driven nation and found three clear issues: the public care about personal data but a knowledge gap remains; consumers don’t trust organisations with their data and they also don’t understand the benefits of sharing personal data.
Some of the key statistics from the report:
- 96pc of respondents claim to understand the term ‘personal data’, but only two-thirds (64pc) picked the correct definition
- 65 per cent of consumers are unsure if their data is being shared without their consent
- 30pc of respondents believe they are responsible for educating themselves on the use and protection of data
- 32pc believe this responsibility lies with the government
- 30pc declare themselves interested in a service to help them collect, manage and preserve personal data
- 79pc believe the primary use of personal data is for organisations’ own economic gain
- 21pc of consumers say monetary gain would convince them to share their personal data
The study saw 4,005 consumers aged between 18 and 64 questioned earlier this year. By far the biggest concern when asked about data fears (76pc) was that they had no control over how it their personal information is shared and who it is shared with.
Infographic: the survey in numbers (PDF)
Equally, what would make the most people (43pc) share their data was if it was going to be used for public good, for example in the fields of healthcare or education.
Media (28pc) and retail (30pc) were the sectors seen as most guilty of using personal data without being clear they do so, with the public sector (43pc) seen as most trustworthy in this area.
It was also clear that respondents did not believe they benefited from sharing data with organisations, with the vast majority (79pc) believing instead that only the organisations profited economically from having it shared with them.
People were happier to share their data if they were paid, with £30 a month being the most popular option (61pc), which does at least show potential for mutually-beneficial working together between businesses and consumers if trust and best practice issues can be overcome.
Interestingly, the report did find a general increase in data knowledge, but because this was largely as a result of negative media coverage of data breaches, the potential opportunities and benefits of data sharing have often been sidelined.
One overwhelmingly clear issue is the desire for control – a huge 94pc of those questioned want to be more in control of the data they share, how they share it and what they get back from it – a mindset that mirrors exactly the wisdom behind the setting up of digi.me, which gives control of your data back to you, to use and organise as you choose.
In summary, the report finds: “In future, the creation of trust in the way consumers share personal data will be one of the defining competitive differentials for business.
“Moreover, it will be one of the key dependences in creating better citizen services and improving the way we all live.”
Digital stakeholders at all levels of all businesses in sectors across the marketplace need to be doing all they can to recognise and reassure that personal data, as Dame Wendy Hall says in the report’s foreword to prove to the public “that data will be used responsibly, be stored safely and called upon sparingly”.
What do you think? Do you have trust in how your personal data is stored or used? Let us know in the comments below.