Nearly half U.K. adults want aspects of their digital history deleted, Accenture Research finds

Nearly half (47 percent) UK adults would like some aspects of their digital history to be deleted forever, according to new research from Accenture.

Accenture surveyed 2,000 UK adults in order to understand how people feel about the personal information that is collected about them online, and what aspects of their data they would most like to be forgotten. On 25 May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will give everyone in the UK the right to access data that companies hold about them and ask for it to be deleted.

Overall, the survey found that seven in ten (70 percent) of UK adults agreed that people should have the right to be forgotten online.  The five most popular things that people would like to be deleted from their digital history are:

  1. Photos of themselves posted by others
  2. Embarrassing social media posts
  3. Search engine history
  4. Shopping habits
  5. Credit history

Nearly one in five (18%) also cited that they would like their online dating past to be forgotten and just over one in ten (14 percent) wanted their location history removed.  Digital information about their teenage years were the most common life stage that people wanted to be forgotten (27 percent). 59 percent said that they have posted something online or via a social media app that they have later come to regret.

Seventy percent of people surveyed welcomed the new regulations with worries about data security (68 percent) and a lack of control over hidden data (62 percent) being the two biggest concerns.  Others were anxious about their general privacy (40 percent), the fact they didn’t know how their data was being used (37 percent), or had worries that their digital history was embarrassing (36 percent).

Nick Taylor, managing director and UK Lead at Accenture Security said:

“In the past, consumers have voted with their wallets; the GDPR now means they will also vote with their data. This research shows that many people don’t fully believe companies will do right by their personal information and so businesses clearly have a job to do to build digital trust. Doing this successfully will bring rewards in collecting, segmenting and responding to customer needs.

GDPR represents an opportunity for companies to prove themselves, deepen digital trust and do more, not less, with consumer data.”

The research also revealed who UK adults do and do not trust with their personal data. People were least trusting of marketing companies (75 percent), social media networks (71 percent) and dating sites (70 percent), with over half (54 per cent) saying they saw no benefit to letting companies hold their data. Respondents were most trusting of their personal data with banks, insurance companies and the health services. They felt particularly uncomfortable with data being collected from their personal email (72 percent), social media (67 percent), smartphone (63 percent) and voice assistant (58 percent).


The inaugural Data Protection World Forum (DPWF) will be held on November 20th & 21st 2018 at the ExCeL London which will provide a broader focus across the data protection and privacy space amidst the progressive tightening of global data protection laws.

Ahead of the end of year event, DPWF has launched a series of intensive workshops.

Further information on the DPWF and workshop details are available at: https://www.dataprotectionworldforum.com/