25 February 2014
Report reveals fears about data protection and misuse
A new report from the Global Research Business Network on attitudes to personal and sensitive data has revealed that, on average, almost a third (31%) of UK and US citizens do not trust their domestic government with their personal data. The report, which is based on a survey of over 2000 individuals, also highlights consumer distrust in internet search engines, social media companies and mobile phone operators.
Although people are reasonably familiar with how personal data is collected and used, there is still a high level of concern with 40% of UK citizens and 45% of people living in the US, saying they are very concerned about how their data is used.
Consumer concern about data protection is a shared experience on both sides of the pond.The report reveals that consumers have low levels of trust in many types of organisations. Across UK and US citizens, 38% said they had no trust in how internet search engines such as Google and Bing are using their data, 53% of people said they had no trust in social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter and 41% said they didn’t trust market research companies. US and UK citizens are also distrusting of their respective security services with 36% of Americans saying they do not trust the National Security Agency (NSA) at all and 29% of people in the UK saying they don’t trust the Intelligence services.
Despite well-documented data breaches by banks and resentment following the credit crunch, the results show banks and financial organisations were more trusted than the US and UK governments – almost a quarter of people (24%) across the UK and the US claim to have significant trust in banks or other financial institutions using their data.
Jane Frost CBE, chief executive officer of the Market Research Society (MRS), the world's leading research association and part of the Global Research Business Network, comments: “The report is a wake-up call for companies to commit to ethical data use or risk jeopardising relationships with their customers. It is time for organisations to take a serious look at data security in a more rounded context. It needs to be a corporate responsibility, not just delegated to IT.
“Familiarity with how data is used doesn’t equate to trust and telling people it is happening, doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. The NHS is a good example of this – more than three quarters (76%) of people said they considered their health records to be sensitive data – this should be an important consideration for the NHS when it is reviewing its care data-sharing scheme.”
Jeffrey T. Resnick, 2012 Board Chair of CASRO, part of the Global Research Business Network, comments: “Sensitivity of personal data is a big issue for consumers. This research shows that there is a high level of distrust from consumers about how their personal data is used. As they hear more about data security breaches and develop a fuller understanding of the implications of the technology they are using, this concern is only going to grow. Governments and businesses cannot afford to stick their heads in the sand and hope it goes away – it won’t.”
Andrew Cannon, President of EFAMRO, the European part of the Global Research Business Network, comments: “While regulation is needed to protect citizens from abuse, I believe that organisations have a responsibility to lead the way, to be more transparent in their activities and earn the trust of citizens. For the sake of democracy, governments and government organisations need to prove their trustworthiness.
“It is clear that the market research sector also needs to more effectively demonstrate its commitment to protecting personal privacy because the study revealed that 41% of those surveyed don’t trust market research companies.”
Diane Bowers, President of CASRO, comments: “As a global network which seeks to promote and advance the position of research, GRBN, along with regional federations and national associations, has vowed to work hard to significantly improve the level of trust by strengthening self-regulation and supporting trust marks such as Fair Data.”