Do people trust organisations with their data?

The ICO has released its latest annual tracking research, giving an insight into what people think about data protection and trusting organisations

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published its annual tracking research and has found that 77% of people say protecting their personal information is essential. 

The survey of over 2,000 individuals monitors changes in what people think about data protection and freedom of information, and how they utilise their information rights. This has been especially important during the pandemic where the public and organisations have had to quickly adapt their daily lives and businesses.

Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham said: “At its core, data protection is about trust. Over the past five years, we have seen real growth in the number of people with high trust and confidence in how businesses and organisations process personal information.

“This is important because we know that when people have trust in how their data is used, they will engage more in data-driven innovations, allowing organisations to maximise impact.”


How confident are people in trusting organisations with their data?


It was revealed that levels of trust and confidence in how companies and organisations store and use personal information has remained broadly stable since 2020. On a scale of one (none) to five (a great deal), it showed the largest number of respondents remained at three, with the percentage changing from 45% in 2020 to 43% in 2021.

At 30% there were more people showing lower levels of confidence – up a little from 28% last year, than the 27% at higher levels.

The main reasons given by the public for having a low level of trust and confidence (rating 1-2 out of 5) in companies and organisations storing and using their personal information are similar to those cited in 2020 and are centred around the belief that companies sell personal information to third parties, as well as concerns about data misuse, data hacking and data leaks/breaches.

The research found that 75% of respondents rated the health service high for trust and confidence, with just 7% giving it a net low. It was found those living in rural areas are significantly more likely than those in urban or suburban areas to have high trust and confidence in the NHS, their local GP and the Police, whereas those in urban areas are significantly more likely to have high trust and confidence in online retailers; mobile, broadband and utility providers; and social media and messaging services. 

“The research also shows that when individuals become aware of data being misused, lost or stolen their trust in organisations can decrease. To maintain high levels of trust, organisations must maintain high standards in all areas of data protection, from the use of pioneering technology through to the basics of data retention and destruction,” Denham said.



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