Brits More Worried About Companies Sharing Personal Information Than Government Spying

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Consumer's online privacy concerns are growing with 60 percent of internet users being more concerned about their privacy online than they were a year ago. Online trust continues to fall and the business impact is significant with 55 percent trusting most companies with their personal information online and 89 percent avoiding companies they do not believe protect their privacy.

Despite media headlines about government surveillance programmes, of the British internet users whose concerns have increased, there are three times as many concerned about companies sharing their personal information with other companies (60%) than governments' monitoring activity (20%).

Ken Parnham European Managing Director, TRUSTe commented: "After a barrage of media headlines about government surveillance programmes such as NSA's PRISM, it is perhaps unsurprising that consumer online trust has fallen to its lowest point yet, with only 55 percent of internet users prepared to trust companies with personal data online. It is a wake-up call for businesses that commercial data collection and sharing, rather than government activity, is the main driver of increased online privacy concerns.

Overall, the research found that consumer online privacy concerns remain extremely high with 89 percent of British internet users worrying to some extent about their privacy online in general when using the internet compared with 88 percent in January 2013. 34 percent said they were frequently or always concerned and 60 percent agreed they were more concerned than one year ago.

When those more concerned about their privacy online were asked what had contributed most to this feeling, 60 percent said companies sharing their personal information with other companies, while 54 percent were concerned about companies tracking their online behaviour to target them with ads and content. In comparison, only 20 percent listed media coverage of government surveillance programmes as a reason for their increased concern.

Consumer trust continues to fall. Just over half of British internet users (55%) agreed that they trust most companies with their personal information online. This is down from 57 percent in 2013 and down significantly from just two years ago when 63 percent of British internet users trusted most companies. Furthermore, 89 percent say they avoid companies they do not believe protect their privacy.

Concern about online privacy can have a negative impact on business. Increased privacy concerns mean:

  • 91 percent are less likely to click on online advertisements
  • 78 percent avoid using smartphone apps that they believe do not protect their privacy
  • 64 percent are less likely to enable location tracking on their smartphone

In addition to these actions, 78 percent are more likely to check websites and apps for a privacy certification or seal.

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Tags: UK 

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