Personal data protection 'central' to companies' reputation management, says ICO

Almost 80 per cent of people are less likely to give their custom to an online company that has made media headlines for failing to stop a data security breach, according to a YouGov poll.

The YouGov poll was commissioned by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to mark European Data Protection Day tomorrow (Thursday) - when Information Commissioner Christopher Graham will discuss the findings at the Advertising Association’s leadership summit.

Graham will say that while ICO fines of up to £500,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act are a powerful deterrent, the negative impact created by media coverage of a penalty can have a greater impact than the fine itself.

"The knock-on effect of a data breach can be devastating for a company. Getting hit with a fine is one thing, but when customers start taking their business – and their money – elsewhere, that can be a real body blow," he will say.

YouGov's poll showed that 20 per cent of people would definitely stop using a company’s services after hearing news of a data breach, while 57 per cent would consider stopping. Only eight per cent said the coverage would make no difference and 14 per cent said they didn’t know.

In addition, 95 per cent of people polled by YouGov said it was very or fairly important that companies were clear from the outset about how their personal information would be used, and 94 per cent deemed it very or fairly important that their information was not shared with other companies.

Graham adds: "It is clear that people care about what happens to their personal information. Getting it right is not only an obligation under law, but it should be central to an organisation’s reputation management." 

Cyber security breaches were experienced by a number of major UK firms last year, including one week that saw Marks & Spencer, TalkTalk and British Gas all hit.

 

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