NEWS28 August 2020

UK public split over trust in organisations’ use of data

GDPR News Privacy UK

UK – The public remains divided on the confidence it has in how companies and organisations handle personal information, according to the annual track survey commissioned by the Information Commissioner’s Office.


Over a quarter ( 27%) of participants said they have high trust and confidence – defined as rating 4-5 out of 5 – in companies and organisations storing and using their data, down from 32% in the 2019 survey.

The proportion with low trust and confidence (selecting 1-2 out of 5 ) also decreased from 38% last year to 28% in 2020.

There was a significant shift towards the neutral middle point in this year’s research, with 45% of respondents selecting 3 out of 5 – up 15 percentage points on 2019.

A belief that companies sell data to third parties was the top reason cited for low levels of trust and confidence ( 18%).

Among those reporting a high level of trust, good previous experiences and legislation were the top two reasons cited for this – both at 15%.

For those who reported a medium level of confidence, the most commonly cited reason is data hacking concerns ( 13%, up from 9% the previous year).

The ICO plans to use the survey results to inform its priorities, including how it works with the public and organisations.

Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner, said: "What is clear is that we must keep promoting the value of data protection. It is perhaps no surprise that people who have had a negative experience around their data being lost or stolen had less trust and confidence in organisations using their data more broadly: a small number of poorly performing organisations can have a wide impact on trust.

"By building data protection and privacy into products and services, organisations can guard against this, encouraging customer confidence and participation, and supporting the benefits of digital innovation more broadly."

The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive. 2,150 online interviews were obtained among UK adults between 25th June – 6th July 2020, with the data weighted to be nationally representative by age, gender and region. A nationally representative telephone omnibus study was also commissioned to help obtain the views of those without internet access.