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UK businesses must redress lack of trust around data, says ICO

Businesses need to redress the lack of trust in their ability to keep personal data safe to enable innovation, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office

Most UK citizens do not trust organisations with their data, a survey commissioned by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has revealed.

Only 20% of those polled said they had trust and confidence in companies and organisations storing their personal information.

The ICO’s deputy commissioner, Steve Wood, urged organisations to be transparent with people’s personal data to enable innovation. “Putting data protection at the centre of digital business strategies is the key to improving trust and digital growth,” he said.

As personal information becomes the currency by which society does business, Wood said organisations needed to start making people’s data protection rights a priority.

But, he said, changes to data protection legislation, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), offer organisations an opportunity to re-engage with their customers about data.

“The new laws require organisations to be more accountable for data protection, and this is a real commitment to putting the consumer at the heart of business,” he said.

Wood emphasised the importance of building consumer trust and confidence at Ctrl Shift’s Personal Information Economy conference in London.

Other statistics from the ICO survey show UK adults are broadly unfamiliar with the specifics of how their personal data is being used by companies and organisations in the UK, with only 10% saying they have a good understanding of how their personal data is used.

“Putting data protection at the centre of digital businesses strategies is the key to improving trust and digital growth”
Steve Wood, ICO

The survey was conducted by ComRes on behalf of the ICO and is designed as a benchmark measurement for the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan 2017-2021.

One of the ICO’s main strategic goals over the next four years is to increase the UK public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and made available.

Other key findings from the survey include that UK citizens are more likely to trust public bodies than private companies or organisations regarding holding or sharing their personal information.

Three in five (61%) said they had trust and confidence in the NHS or local GP to store and use their personal information, while half said the same of the police (53%) or national government departments and organisations (49%).

Only 12% said they had trust and confidence in social messaging platforms storing and using their personal information, while less than one in 10 (8%) UK adults said they had a good understanding of how their personal data was made available to third parties and the public by companies and organisations in the UK.

Older UK adults were more likely than their younger counterparts to have little trust and confidence in companies and organisations storing and using their personal information.

“By now, organisations should be aware of the changes to data protection law next May. It’s no longer acceptable to see the law as a box-ticking exercise. Organisations will need to be accountable, to their customers and to the regulator,” said Wood.

“We want to see improvements in these figures. It’s time for organisations to start building the UK public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and made available,” he said.

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