Global survey reveals widespread distrust on personal data usage by companies and governments

Findings from a new Ipsos and World Economic Forum survey suggest world citizens are in the dark about how their personal information is used – most of all those from economically advanced countries including Great Britain.

During last week’s annual meeting in Davos, Paris, Ipsos and the World Economic Forum unveiled the first instalment of a global tracking study on consumer acceptance of information technology. The report, entitled Global Citizens and Data Privacy, sheds light on a widespread lack of knowledge and of trust around the usage of personal data by companies and governments.

 

Findings suggest world citizens are in the dark about how their personal information is used – most of all those from economically advanced countries including Great Britain. The findings include:

Most adults surveyed across the world say they know little or nothing about how much personal data companies and governments hold and how they use it.

Only one in three adults globally have a good idea of how much personal data companies hold about them (35%) or what they do with it (32%). In Great Britain, 30% of those surveyed say they know a great deal about what data companies hold about them with just 27% confident of what they do with this data: notably under the global averages. Nevertheless, Britons fared better than citizens from other developed economies such as Canada, Germany and Japan, where on average 20% say they have a good idea of what companies do with their personal information.

Motivation is vital as trust about organisations’ usage of personal data varies widely across sectors. 

When it comes to trust in different types of organisations to handle personal data, Britons’ views are in line with the global average. Britons’ trust is lowest for foreign governments (17%) but the national government does not score particularly well either, with 43% trusting the national government. Trust is notably higher for organisations with a “positive” motivation for providing support; two-thirds (66%) of Brits would trust doctors and hospitals to handle personal data in the right way. 

In line with the global picture, Britons are most comfortable sharing their personal information with brands or companies when they are clear about what they will do with the data. Almost three-quarters (72%) of Brits would feel much or somewhat more comfortable sharing their data with a company that provides clear information. A similar proportion (69%) would trust a company that promised not to share or sell their personal data to other parties.

But here deeds are as important as words: 66% of Brits would feel more comfortable trusting a company that had never been subject to any breach, leak or fraudulent usage of data. Britons also trust what they know; two-thirds (67%) would feel more comfortable trusting a company they have a lot of experience with.

Britons are among the most likely to feel that consumers should be able to refuse to share their data with companies.

Britons are among the most likely to feel that consumers should be able to refuse companies permission to use the data they collect about them. Three-quarters (75%) agree that people should have the right to refuse companies from using this data, in line with Sweden and the US, and behind only Canada (79%).

  • You can read the full press release and download the Global Consumer Attitudes on Data Policy report on the global Ipsos website.

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