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Majority of Brits ‘know nothing’ about what companies do with their data

The majority of British consumers are ignorant about how their personal data is used, a Publicis survey has found

61% of Britons are in the dark about what companies do with their data and 40% say believe their data is worth more than the services they receive.

That’s according to a global study from Publicis Sapient, which measured consumer sentiment and sensitivity around data privacy by surveying 5,007 adults across the US, UK, Australia, France and Germany between June and August.

Are consumers data savvy?

  • Despite issues around data privacy hitting the headlines from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the implementation of GDPR rules, 65% of Britons admit total ignorance of how companies handle their data.

  • A paltry 6% consider themselves fully clued up on the issue, with no discernible improvement found between countries under GDPR jurisdiction and those without.

  • This compares unfavourably with the global picture, which found 61% are oblivious as to where their data ends up.

  • When asked, 49% of Britons said that prior confirmation that a company would not sell or share personal data was a greater incentive to share than the right to delete.

Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to data

  • The survey suggested a connection between a person’s familiarity with data and their willingness to share; 40% of Brits who understood what companies did with their data being more receptive to such requests.

  • When asked about technology as a whole, UK residents were broadly enthusiastic, with 64% believing it to have a positive impact on their lives – higher than the 58% figure recorded internationally.

  • As far as data is concerned however, 48% fret that sharing can be harmful.

  • The proportion associating data collection with harm increases with age with 55% of Baby Boomers viewing the practice with scepticism, contrasing against the 46%, 43% and 32% of Gen X, millenials and Gen Z.

  • This is partly attributed to the perceived value placed on their data by Brits with 42% considering their data to be worth more than any services they receive.

What are people comfortable with?

  • On the other side of the pond, Americans were the most happy to share basic personal info with 44% comfortable in doing so, putting them ahead of others in the Anglosphere such as Australia (34%) and Britain (32%).

  • When it comes to biometric, issued data and digital people across the board are far less sanguine, with the proportion of Britons comfortable in sharing such info standing at just 16%, 9% and 8% respectively.

  • Where Brits do feel more comfortable sharing is in areas such as race/ethnicity (48%), personal information (32%), contact information (29%) and location (28%).

  • UK citizens were found to be more willing to submit their data to financial services companies than any other sector, including retail, health and transport.

  • Max Kirby, customer data platform practice lead at Publicis Sapient, notes: “Our research indicated that privacy sensitivity is emerging as a new form of personalization, reflecting how a business approaches a high-privacy sensitivity customer versus a low-sensitivity customer. To detect a customer’s level of privacy-sensitivity, identities must be resolved across multiple data sources using a customer data platform in tandem with a consent management system.”

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