Government trusted more than private sector for data protection

EY study finds government bodies still most trusted to 'own' personal information

Consumers still appear to trust government organisations more than their private sector counterparts when it comes to having access to their personal information and data protection, according to a recent study.

Conducting a poll on the subject, global advisory firm Ernst & Young found that 55% of the respondents said they were comfortable sharing their personal data with central government bodies like the NHS and HMRC.

However, respondents appeared more sceptical when it came to sharing their personal information with private sector organisations. Some 26% said they would be happy to share personal details with their energy provider, while just over 32% said they would be happy to do so with financial institutions. The figure dipped to just a fifth in the case of supermarkets.

In order to gauge public opinion EY polled just over 2,000 consumers and 748 senior business decision makers. Steve Wilkinson, the advisory firm's managing partner for UK & Ireland client service said that the survey was indicative of 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," he added.

Furthermore, EY found that with the proliferation of social media websites, consumers have become more cautious about who they share their information with online. In total, a mere 8% of consumers it surveyed felt comfortable sharing their personal information with social networks. Willingness levels fell to 7% with search engines and 5% with mobile apps.

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