Headlines: September 15th, 2008

People are more likely to trust a bank with their personal information than a local council or a Government department, according to the results of a new survey. The research by the document processing company, Pitney Bowes Management Services, found that people do not trust Central or Local Government to safeguard their data but levels of trust in banks remain surprisingly high.

The survey gives a clear picture of which organisations UK citizens trust with their personal details and those they do not. Only social networking sites were rated lower than Government. Top of the trust table were family doctors who benefited from the extension of the age-old notion of doctor-patient confidentiality to a belief that the surgery’s records management procedures were equally trustworthy.

Banks were second in the list, which surprised Richard Thompson, the Managing Director, Pitney Bowes Management Services. “There have been several high-profile news stories of banks being negligent with customer data. In today’s highly competitive marketplace the onus is on the bank to communicate in an ever more personalised fashion with its customers to prevent defection, and to tailor products to suit customer behaviours.”

He added that trust for Government data protection procedures was approaching rock bottom and said the public sector was facing a big challenge to appear more transparent, while cutting costs at the same time. Mr. Thompson said e-government transformation guidelines meant bodies were striving to encourage people to access services online to eliminate some of the administrative burden and reduce the costs of service provision but damaging data-breaches would hardly persuade citizens to submit personal information remotely.

He continued, “That is not to say that the public sector is lackadaisical in its data protection approach. There are massive improvements being made, helped in no small part by the sector’s newfound maturity in embracing private sector expertise to offer ongoing consultancy.”