LONDON: British consumers are savvy and switched-on users of new technology, but even the most technology-literate fear intrusion into their privacy and don't trust that their personal data will be protected.

That's the conclusion reached by UK communications regulator Ofcom in a new research report, Switched on, based on the findings of its eleven-strong Consumer Panel.

The report reveals that the general public has little idea about what rules exist to protect their data, with informants telling the panel they felt exposed to others "out there" who they feared could find out too much about them.

Without exception, consumers said that privacy should be heavily protected. Among other things, they felt under siege from spam on the phone and the web and they expressed particular concerns about dodgy dates, paedophiles and unscrupulous internet vendors.

Comments panel chairperson Anna Bradley: "This research shows that there are serious challenges ahead in relation to privacy and the use of personal electronic data.

"Service providers, regulators and other policy makers need to give consumers greater confidence that the risks are well managed.

"In addition, we need to help consumers understand about the existing protections, make the residual risks clear to them and help them to make their own electronic environment safer."

The full Switched on report can be can be accessed by clicking here.

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff