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UK privacy concerns still linger

News, 13 April 2015

LONDON: Further evidence that British consumers have deep concerns about the security of their private information online has been underlined in two new surveys that emphasise the need for businesses to build trust.

A survey of more than 2,000 UK adults for CloudMask, a Canadian-owned global security firm, found 72% of Britons are worried about hackers and unauthorised access to their personal information.

This is especially so because consumers find sharing their data online has become unavoidable and 70% have had to share data when signing up for online services.

Public concern has also mounted in recent months following well-publicised cases of the hacking of corporations and celebrities as well as the revelations leaked by Edward Snowden, the fugitive National Security Agency contractor.

Despite their concerns, about half (51%) of those surveyed say they don't want to pay for online protection while 61% think the organisation responsible for an app or website should take the most responsibility.

However, in a surprise finding that suggests a change in consumer behaviour is underway, the research also found that a third (32%) would be willing to pay to protect their data online and 29% firmly believe it is their own responsibility.

Nonetheless, Garreth Cameron, group manager at the Information Commissioner's Office, said that even though consumers may be prepared to pay to protect their personal data, it remains the responsibility of businesses to follow the law.

"Businesses should be doing everything they can to keep information safe by investing in consumer privacy online, both in terms of education, increased protection and good practice," he said.

Separately, a smaller poll of 250 British consumers by Worldpay, the payment processing company, found three-quarters (75%) would consider a website to be more secure if it prominently displays payment authentication logos on its homepage. But only 8% of retail sites in the UK currently do this.

Security concerns also prevent 46% of consumers from storing their payment details with an online retailer, although 60% would consider doing this if the security measures were made clear, Retail Week reported.

"Retailers need to reassure customers that their information is in safe hands, from the second they start browsing a site to the moment they receive an email confirming their purchase," said Maria Prados, global retail vp at Worldpay.

Data sourced from CloudMask, Retail Week; additional content by Warc staff