Which companies do consumers trust with their personal data?

Demonstrating the ability to manage customers' data is a key component of corporate reputation - but most companies are not trusted by the British public to handle their personal data.

Do consumers trust your client with their personal data? (Credit: r2hox via Flickr)
Do consumers trust your client with their personal data? (Credit: r2hox via Flickr)

This is one of the findings of a new survey of 1,200 UK adults by data watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office, which shows significant variations in whether people trust different companies with their personal data.

Following a number of high-profile cyber security and data incidents suffered by major brands last year, PRs warned at the start of this year that companies needed to have better comms plans in place to deal with the issue.

When asked whether they trusted businesses as a whole to handle this information safely, just 23 per cent of respondents to the ICO report said they did. When asked about different types of businesses, the following proportion of respondents said they trusted them with their personal data:

  • Banks: 53 per cent said they trusted banks with their data
  • Government departments: 36 per cent
  • Energy providers: 33 per cent
  • High street retailers: 32 per cent
  • Technology brands: 31 per cent
  • Mobile networks: 29 per cent
  • Internet brands: 22 per cent

The study, carried out in April by citizenme, also asked what consumers were most concerned by when handing over personal data. Criminal use and nuisance-calling came top, while issues relating to served ads featured further down the list.

The report also found that a quarter of people have installed an ad blocker on their web browser or smartphone - a slightly higher figure than the 21 per cent found by a separate academic study also released today - and that 75 per cent of people think it’s important that data protection is taught in schools. The study also found that 13 per cent of people have requested a copy of their data from organisations.

In January, the ICO warned that personal data protection was "central" to reputation management for companies, with 80 per cent of people in a separate study saying they were less likely to give their custom to an online company that had made headlines for failing to stop a data security breach.

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