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Trust is key to sharing personal data, ODI research finds

People are more comfortable sharing personal data if they have been told how it will be used, according to the Open Data Institute

The NHS, banks and local government are among those most trusted to handle people’s personal data, according to Open Data Institute (ODI) research. 

The ODI research, based on a YouGov poll of 2,000 people, found 94% of those surveyed saw trust as a key factor in deciding to share personal data with an organisation, with 64% saying they trust the NHS with their information.  

Despite the Care.data disaster in recent years, as well as the Google DeepMind/Royal Free data sharing controversy, nearly half of those surveyed said they would be happy to share their medical data if it helped develop new medicines or treatments. 

Banks and friends and family rank joint second with 57% of respondents trusting them, while local government ranking third at 41% and online retailers come in at fourth with 22% trusting them with their data.

Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter fare much worse, with only one in 10 trusting social media sites with their personal data.  

Young people however, are much more trusting of social media platforms than the older generation, with one in four young Brits trusting sites such as Facebook and twitter, with the figure dropping to one in 20 of 45-54 year-olds.

The research did reveal that there is still hesitance among people to share data, often because there isn’t enough education and literacy around it. A third of people surveyed said they would feel more comfortable with sharing data about themselves if they were told how organisations planned to use the data, and 18% said they would welcome step-by-step instructions on how to share data safely.

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However, a third of respondents also said that nothing could make them feel more comfortable about sharing personal data.

ODI CEO Jeni Tennison said the survey shows that “more people need to understand how to share data confidently to reap these rewards”.

“At the ODI we want consumers to feel more confident and informed about data. Data literacy is not a solution for all problems – we will always need strong regulation and well-designed, ethical services – but it is part of the answer to building and retaining trust in data,” she said. “Improving data literacy is partly down to organisations designing services that are far more proactive and transparent in explaining how they use customer data.”

“It is also important that educators include data literacy in courses both in formal education environments, and informal environments for people not in full-time education.”

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