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Data distrust may harm UK economy

News, 31 July 2015

LONDON: Organisations have been urged once again to be open and transparent about their use of personal data as a new survey reveals the scale of distrust among consumers, which it is feared could hinder business growth in the UK.

A full 94% of UK consumers say they want more control over their personal data, 65% are unsure whether their data is being shared without their consent while 60% admit they are uncomfortable sharing data.

These are some of the key findings in the Trust in Personal Data: A UK Review, a survey of more than 4,000 UK consumers conducted by the Digital Catapult, a national centre reporting to Government to advance the UK's best digital ideas.

More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents are concerned that they have "no control over how data is shared or who it is shared with", causing 14% to refuse to share any personal data at all.

British consumers also appear to have a low opinion about the motivations of businesses and other organisations with nearly four-fifths (79%) believing the main use of their personal data is for economic gain.

Close to a third (30%) say the retail sector is most guilty of using personal data without being clear they are doing so while only 2% trust the telecoms sector.

Interestingly, 44% trust the public sector with their data and a similar proportion (43%) say they would share information only if it is clear it would be used to improve society.

Other people have different motivations and a fifth (21%) report that they would share data for monetary gain while 61% say their information should be worth at least £30 a month.

Taken together, the survey findings prompted the Digital Catapult to warn that the delivery of digital services and business growth in the UK could be hindered unless all parties work together to build trust.

Neil Crockett, CEO at the Digital Catapult, said: "The sharing of personal data is vital to the improvement of digital services and the development of new ones.

"To deliver the best digital services and drive economic growth, we must ensure [consumers] trust businesses to use their information in the right way.

"In doing this we not only create new and more productive citizen and consumer digital solutions, we give the UK a real chance in being a leader in a new wave of digital tools and approaches to solve a global problem."

Data sourced from the Digital Catapult, V3.co.uk; additional content by Warc staff