Public trust government most with private data


Central government bodies, such as the NHS and HMRC, are trusted most by the public to look after and responsibly use private data, according to new research.

The study of 2,010 UK adults carried out on behalf of advisory firm Ernst & Young (EY) found 55 per cent are happy to share personal information with such organisations, compared to 26 per cent with energy providers, 32 per cent with financial institutions and 20 per cent with supermarkets.

The organisations ranked lowest were search engines at seven per cent, social networks at eight per cent and mobile apps at just five per cent.

Steve Wilkinson, managing partner UK and Ireland for client services at EY, said: "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."

Jim Killock, executive director of privacy campaigners the Open Rights Group told IT Pro he was unsurprised at the results.

"People can understand the reason for handing over [data] to their doctor or the tax authorities because of what they get out of the service. The reason commercial entities want private data, and the pay off, is less obvious," he explained.

"People clearly see the handing over of information as something that ought to relate to the needs of the company or organisation. Therefore, despite their trust in some central government bodies, I imagine if you asked the same group of people do you think GCHQ needs to know your browsing history?' they would probably say no'," he concluded.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.