Data Sharing: Consumer Attitudes Survey

September 16, 2012

O2 recently commissioned what they believe to be the most in-depth research to date on the public’s attitudes toward the sharing of information. The report arising from that research from Demos, The Data Dialogue, was published on 14 September. It is based on a survey by polling company Populus, using what it describes as a representative sample of over 5,000 members of the public aged 18 and over, undertaken in March 2012. Jamie Bartlett, the author of the report, prefaces it with this quote ‘the public must be at the heart of any new settlement on data sharing…’ – a fair summary of the much more complicated conclusions in the full report. The full report from Demos can be downloaded from the panel opposite or accessed online here

Data Dialogue suggests that there is a growing crisis in consumer confidence over how government and business handle personal data, and discomfort about the way in which personal information and data are currently being used. The report argues that this loss of confidence could have a knock-on effect on the economy and on the quality of services available to consumers. These views about sharing are said to change when people are given more control and choice about what data is shared, and when the benefit of sharing that data is made clear to them. The report therefore suggests that consumers should be engaged in an honest dialogue about how data is collected and used, and should be given meaningful choice and control over the information they share because that will be good for business and consumers alike.

Speaking at the launch of The Data Dialogue, Information Commissioner Christopher Graham described the report as marking beginning of ‘crucial dialogue’ to establish confidence amongst consumers around personal data handling. Christopher Graham said ‘This report illustrates a critical need for businesses and government to work together to ensure that the voice of consumer is heard within the ongoing debate around the public and their propensity to share their personal information. It marks the beginning of a crucial dialogue from which we need to establish how the consumer can be better represented and to foster a greater sense of trust and transparency. Only by engaging in this debate now, can policy makers and business leaders hope to establish true confidence amongst consumers when it comes to the handling of their personal data.’

Ronan Dunne CEO at O2 said ‘There needs to be a unified push on transparency. Otherwise there will always remain confusion and concern amongst the public about inconsistent practices and standards. Whilst we don’t have all the answers, we believe that by starting the conversation, asking the right questions and working collectively, we will be in a better place to get it right.’