Brits want control over data companies have on them

Almost nine in ten (89 per cent) people in Great Britain think they should be able to control what data a company collects about them online, and what it uses this data for, according to findings from a YouGov online survey on behalf of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

However, BCS says this is not the reality of people’s day to day experience.

The findings come as the Institute launches the consultative stage of its personal data challenge to encourage individuals and organisations to come together and shape the future of personal data. The launch is taking place at The Personal Information Economy 2015: Growth Through Trust conference, organised by specialist consultancy Ctrl-Shift.

David Evans, Director of Policy at BCS explains that today’s ultimatum-style communication needs fixing: “Terms and conditions mean we’re given an ultimatum when we want a conversation. Vulnerable people can be hounded even by organisations they should have a positive relationship with. It feels that we can’t trust big household names to look after or use our data as we’d want them to. Yet organisations are also carrying risks and frustrated by constraints, and that isn’t good for business. Personal data is not working for anyone; we need to come together and fix it.”

BCS is today starting that process by launching a consultation paper to experts and interested parties outlining the societal goals. The paper proposes three essential personal data principles: safety, integration and relationships.

BCS’ survey also revealed that 64 per cent of adults said that they aren’t really happy with the way companies collect and use data about them, but they don't feel there's much they can do about it. On the other hand, 26 per cent say that they understand that companies need to collect data about them in order to provide them with services, and overall are happy with how it works.

Forty-four per cent of adults online said they would use a service whereby the provider could guarantee the safety and security of all the personal data about them and their online activities (e.g. name, address, date of birth, purchases made etc.), and give them control over who has access to it and how it is used, but wouldn’t be willing to pay for it.

Only around one in 5 (19 per cent) agreed with the statement: “If companies give me a discount or a more personalised service (e.g. recommendations of products based on previous purchases) I think it is fair for them to collect personal data about me without my full knowledge of what they are collecting or how they are using it.”