More than nine out of 10 people worry that organisations are selling their personal details illegally, according to research from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
The research, based on a national survey with 1,000 respondents, showed that 94% of individuals are concerned that organisations are selling their personal details to other organisations without permission.
"People now consider protecting their personal information as the second most socially important issue, above the NHS, national security and environmental issues," the ICO said. Crime prevention takes top slot.
The ICO said individuals' awareness of their rights under the Data Protection Act has reached an all-time high. Nine out of 10 people now know they are entitled to ask to see what information an organisation holds about them, Three years ago, only three out of four people knew this.
This year's nationwide survey showed 87% of individuals know they have the right to correct inaccurate personal information held about them - a 10% rise.
The ICO said nine out of ten adults worry that organisations are failing to keep their personal information secure, while six in ten believe they have lost control over the way their personal information is collected and processed.
Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, said, "By failing to keep personal information secure, organisations not only risk losing the trust of their customers but they also risk enforcement action by my office."