Consumers demand action to protect their privacy online

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Consumers demand action to protect their privacy online

Warwick Ashford

Consumers across the world want more to be done to protect their privacy online according to new research.

More than 10,000 people were polled by ComRes in nine countries, including the UK and more than 75% said they are concerned about their privacy online.

Just over 40% say consumers are being harmed by big companies gathering large amounts of personal data for internal use.

Specifically, two out of three respondents believe that national regulators should do more to force Google to comply with existing regulations concerning online privacy and the protection of personal data.

“The widespread support for EU regulators to do more to ensure Google complies with existing privacy regulations highlights how people want to see real, concrete action taken to protect their privacy,” said Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, which commissioned the study.

“Online privacy is a global issue of real importance to people and the overwhelming message is that citizens do not feel their authorities are doing enough about the desire of large companies to collect vast amounts of data on them,” Nick Pickles said.

Germany has set an example by taking strong legal action against companies who do not respect people’s privacy, he said.

The survey shows that in Germany, which has one of the strongest data protection laws, 56% of consumers are unconcerned about their privacy online.

“Sadly, around the rest of the world, it is clear people do not have this confidence and want more done to rein in companies like Google,” said Pickles.

In India, just 5% of respondents said they were not concerned about online privacy, followed by Brazil and Spain at 10%. The figure for the UK was 29%.

Consumers in South Korea (78%), UK (46%), France (44%) and Australia (40%) are the most critical of big companies gathering personal data.

The research also investigated the public’s attitude towards The EU’s current investigation into Google and its new privacy policy.

In European markets, 73% say regulators were right to investigate Google’s privacy policy and how it allows the company to collect and combine data on consumers. Consumers in Australia, India and Brazil are supportive of the action taken.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed believe that national regulators should do more to force Google to comply with existing regulations concerning online privacy and the protection of personal data.

Last week, UK privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) took further action against Google over the collection of Wi-Fi data by its Street View cars.

But the ICO stopped short of a monetary penalty, instead issuing an enforcement notice that requires Google to delete the remaining payload data identified last year within 35 days.

The ICO also noted that its investigation into whether Google’s privacy policy complies with the Data Protection Act is on-going.

This investigation is part of coordinated action by data protection regulators across Europe, to assess whether Google’s latest privacy policy clearly explains how individuals’ personal information is being used across the company’s products and services.

Data protection authorities in France and Spain have already charged Google with breaches of their privacy laws and called for revision of Google’s privacy policies.

The ICO said it will write to Google shortly to confirm its preliminary findings.


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