NEWS5 October 2020

Majority of Brits unsure of how companies handle data

Asia Pacific Europe GDPR News North America Privacy Technology UK

UK – There is a lack of understanding amongst the British public about how companies use people’s information, according to a survey from Publicis Sapient. 


Over half ( 65%) of British participants reported knowing little to nothing about what companies do with their personal data.

This single measurement of knowledge was calculated by indexing responses on nine topics: how much personal data companies hold, what they use it for, where it is stored and how long it can be kept; people’s rights over their information and how they can access and delete the data; and with whom companies share/sell data they hold. 

Across participants from all countries surveyed, fewer than one in ten people feel they know a lot about what companies do with the data they collect about them ( 7%), 32% said they know a fair amount, and three in five reported knowing little to nothing ( 61%).

Almost half of British participants ( 48%) viewed the collection of their information as harmful to them personally rather than beneficial.

Meanwhile, those who understand more about the process tend to see the benefits of data being collected, as well as being satisfied with the amount of online privacy they have, according to the research.

The survey was conducted in Great Britain, the US, France, Germany and Australia. Across the global results, 40% of participants reported feeling that their data is worth more than the services they currently receive, with this figure slightly higher amongst British participants ( 42%).

The survey also found that Britons were most comfortable sharing their race/ethnicity ( 48%), personal information ( 32%), contact information ( 29%) and location ( 28%). They were less comfortable sharing biometric ( 16%) and digital data ( 8%).

Max Kirby, customer data platform practice lead at Publicis Sapient, said: “There is a clear connection between a person’s familiarity with data and their willingness to share valuable information. Our research indicated that privacy-sensitivity is emerging as a new form of personalisation, reflecting how a business approaches a high-privacy sensitivity customer versus a low-sensitivity customer.”


The report’s findings are based on the results of an Ipsos poll conducted between 18th-30th June in the US and between 24th July-7th August, in Australia, France, Germany and Great Britain. A sample of 5,007 adults age 18+ from the US, Australia, France, Germany and Great Britain were interviewed online in English.