7 out of 10 Britons call for tougher punishment when companies flout data privacy

data breach

More than a year on from the scandal in which 87 million unauthorised Facebook users’ details were shared with Cambridge Analytica, 71% of UK adults want tougher action in penalising companies that abuse our data privacy by misusing third party data.

This is according to new research from YouGov*, with more than 2000 UK adults online, conducted on behalf of data privacy experts myGaru.

When asked about what needs to be done about the sale and misuse of third party data, a further 89% support the government’s recent calls for a new code of ethics to oversee the behaviour of social media companies in the UK.

Around a third of the public (34%) have already made changes to the privacy settings of one or more of their social media accounts since the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal and 19% state they would make more or new changes in the future.

Overall, 44% of consumers have become more concerned about how their data is used by third parties, in general.

Equally, there is little trust amongst consumers about how their personal information is passed on to third parties: the overwhelming majority of UK consumers, 78%, are concerned about how their private data and information on their online behaviour, such as online posts, photos and personal information, are being shared.

However, while the scandal may have been a wake-up call to consumers to take control of their privacy, they haven’t been dissuaded from accessing their social media apps. According to the research, only 12% of all respondents have cancelled one or more of their social media accounts in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica incident.

Commenting on the findings: Spyridon Kleitsas, CEO of myGaru said:

“Businesses are accumulating data from customers on an epic scale, but, if data is the new number one global commodity, we need to ensure they are acting responsibly when it comes to how this is shared.

Part of the problem is that the digital adtech industry is shrouded in mystery and consumers simply aren’t aware of the business model that sits behind this and that social media companies are making vast amounts of money by selling their data to third parties.

“This lack of transparency was further borne out by the fact that there is confusion over who the rightful owners of online data are amongst UK consumers. Around a third (34%) of consumers believe that social media companies own private data – and information on their online behaviour collected from their interactions on these websites. 28% simply didn’t know who the rightful owners are and only around a quarter (24%) believe that this data is owned by them. Younger respondents were more likely to think that social media companies are the owners of data on their online behaviour, with 43% of 18-24 year olds believing this to be the case,” he continued.

“The current model is broken: brands are worried about using data that hasn’t been obtained with the clear permission of the user and risking high fines from GDPR. For consumers, the ‘cookies’ system is unfair because if they want to access an app or website they have little alternative but to give consent, and all too often they’re signing up to services without full insight into how their data is then shared and sold on.

“That’s why we believe it’s time to redress this balance with a new approach through which users can take back control – and ownership – of their personal data and exercise their data protection rights and give brands access to GDPR compliant, accurate data,” he added.

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2107 UK adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th – 13th May 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


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