The Information Commissioners Officer (ICO)’s Deputy Commissioner has reminded organisations to be transparent with people’s personal data after a survey revealed a significant deficit of trust that organisations must address if they want to innovate with personal information. New ICO research found that only one fifth of the UK public (20%) have trust and confidence in companies and organisations storing their personal information.

Steve Wood, Deputy Commissioner said “As personal information becomes the currency by which society does business, organisations need to start making people’s data protection rights a priority. Putting data protection at the centre of digital businesses strategies is the key to improving trust and digital growth. Changes to data protection legislation, which include the introduction of the GDPR, offer organisations an opportunity to re-engage with their customers about data. The new laws require organisations to be more accountable for data protection and this is a real commitment to putting the consumer at the heart of business.”

Wood delivered a speech about the importance of building consumer trust and confidence at Ctrl Shift’s Personal Information Economy conference in London.

Other statistics from the ICO survey show British adults are broadly unfamiliar with the specifics of how their personal data is being used by companies and organisations in the UK, with only one in ten (10%) saying they have a good understanding of how their personal data is used.

The survey was conducted by ComRes on behalf of the ICO and is designed as benchmark measurement for the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan 2017-2021. One of the ICO’s main strategic goals over the next four years is to increase the UK public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and made available.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • UK citizens are more likely to trust public bodies than private companies or organisations regarding holding or sharing their personal information.
  • Three in five (61%) say they have trust and confidence in the NHS or local GP to store and use their personal information while half say the same of the police (53%) or national government departments and organisations (49%).
  • One in ten UK adults (12%) say they have trust and confidence in social messaging platforms storing and using their personal information.
  • Less than one in ten (8%) of UK adults say they have a good understanding of how their personal data is made available to third parties and the public by companies and organisations in the UK.
  • Older UK adults are more likely than their younger counterparts to say they have little trust and confidence in companies and organisations storing and using their personal information.

Wood added “By now organisations should be aware of the changes to data protection law next May. It’s no longer acceptable to see the law as a box ticking exercise. Organisations will need to be accountable, to their customers and to the regulator. We want to see improvements in these figures. It’s time for organisations to start building the UK public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and made available.”