Headlines: January 6th, 2014

Despite revelations about breeches of data privacy by GCHQ, public services are more trusted to take care of personal data than private companies.

Findings from a survey by EY, a provider of assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services worldwide, show that customers still appear to trust government bodies more than private sector organisations when it comes to having access to their personal information.

Over half of consumers say they are comfortable sharing their personal data with central government bodies, such as the NHS and HM Revenue and Customs. Consumers, however, appear more skeptical when it comes to sharing their personal information with private sector organisations even when these provide day-to-day services. Around a quarter would be happy to share personal details with their energy provider, while just over 32 per cent would be happy to share their data with financial institutions and only 20 per cent with supermarkets.

The online EY survey of just over 2,000 consumers and 748 senior business decision makers looks at the shift of consumers’ attitudes towards personal data sharing and the action organisations need to take to adapt their customer insight programmes accordingly.

Steve Wilkinson, Managing Partner, UK & Ireland client service, said: “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. Despite well publicised government mis-steps towards data privacy, consumers still appear more willing to share personal data with public sector organisations. On the other hand, there is a growing trend to revoke the access that private companies have to such information. As a result, we are likely to see a change in which bodies have the greatest access to customer information in the next five-to-10 years.”

As the prominence of social media websites has grown, consumers have become more cautious about who they share their information with online. In total, just 8 per cent of consumers feel comfortable sharing their personal information with social networks, only 7 per cent with search engines and 5 per cent with mobile apps.

Half of consumers that use social media networks claim that their use of them has made them less open to sharing personal data and two fifths of consumers now restrict all access to their personal data on social media sites.

Steve Wilkinson said: “When it comes to online channels, consumers are even more sensitive about who they are willing to share personal information with. The rise of digital natives – those that have grown up with an inherent understanding of technology – means that today’s customers understand the dangers of sharing information online and try to protect it by restricting the access private companies have to their personal data.”