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49% of Brits unaware of the need to opt-out of data sharing

A new study from Trend Micro has revealed that millions of Brits may be unwittingly allowing companies to share their personal data with advertisers and other third parties.

To gather data for its study, the cyber security solutions company surveyed 2,502 UK internet users over the course of April 2016. Of those surveyed, 49 per cent said that they were unaware of the need to opt-out of data sharing when signing up for online services and that they had unknowingly allowed businesses to pass on their information without consent. As a result of these hidden opt-out tactics, 23 per cent of consumers do not feel in control of their online data.

Companies currently employ pre-ticked boxes and extensive terms and conditions (which users seldom read) as legal permissions to sell a consumer's data to third party service providers. This data is often used for marketing and advertising purposes against the will of a majority of individuals.

The 'implied consent' loophole results in the data of users of many popular and free services being shared with multiple businesses which puts their data at risk while at the same time pushing unwanted services onto consumers.

Trend Micro's study showed that an overwhelming 85 per cent of consumers would rather not have their information shared by companies such as Facebook or Google even if they received better service from those companies. This same figure was lower at 75 per cent just two years ago which highlights how consumer's are becoming more conscious of how their data is used.

Bharat Mistry, a cybersecurity consultant at Trend Micro confirmed that internet users are more aware of how their data is being used by large companies, saying: “Internet users are increasingly aware of the value of their personal data and are right to be concerned about how it is being used. With high profile data breaches all too common, consumers are right to be increasingly diligent with how their data is shared.”

“This growing consumer awareness will hopefully force many companies to employ more stringent data protection procedures for the benefit of all.”

Image Credit: Rido / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.