LONDON: UK adults are happier to share personal information with government bodies than with private sector businesses such as social networks, a new study has revealed.

EY, the professional services company, surveyed more than 2,000 UK adults about their attitudes towards personal data sharing and found that 92% were uneasy about allowing social networks access to such material. Just 8%, The Drum reported, were happy to share their personal information with social networks, and 40% restricted all access to their personal data on these sites.

But more than half (55%) indicated they were comfortable sharing personal data with central government bodies such as the NHS, and HM Revenue and Customs.

Other private sector organisations were held in higher regard than social media, with almost one third (32%) content to share personal details with financial institutions and just over one quarter to share with an energy provider, while 20% were prepared for supermarkets to access their data.

The lowest levels of trust were reserved for search engines (7%) and mobile apps (5%).

"What our survey shows is a shift in attitudes and practices towards how consumers treat their personal data, and the access they will allow to their data, both now and in future," said Steve Wilkinson, managing partner, UK & Ireland client service at EY.

EY also polled 748 senior business decision makers and discovered their views on where customer information would come from in the future didn't necessarily tally with consumers' outlook.

Some 12% thought social networks were a viable option, while 10% expected search engines to be a valuable source of customer insight. Three per cent were looking to local government and a further 4% to central government, while 16% anticipated that customers themselves would be an important source.

Wilkinson warned that few organisations were thinking about their long-term investment or identifying what would be the biggest sources of information in 10 years' time.

"Business executives should focus on analysing the change in customer attitudes towards personal information sharing, to avoid rendering current investments pointless," he said.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff