Michael Brennan|July 22, 2021

Over three years since GDPR was written into UK law as the DPA (2018) and following a year like no other, the ICO published the results of their latest consumer tracking survey last month (fieldwork conducted in May 2021).

To put things into context the number one objective for the ICO as per their 2017-2021 Information Rights Strategic Plan is to ‘increase the trust the public has in government, public bodies and the private sector in terms of how personal information is used and made available’. Drivers of public trust include increased transparency and creating a culture of accountability for the use of personal data in the digital economy and across public service delivery.

The 2020 survey results showed a significant shift to the middle ground among consumers, with a fall in the share of both high and low trust and confidence in the use of their personal data. In 2021 we see no significant change in the overall figures as shown below.

When we break the data down we can see that men are more likely to say that they have a high level of trust and confidence compared to women (33% v 22%) and also that parents are more likely to say the same than non-parents (37% v 23%).

The latter is perhaps particularly important given the role of online services in supporting children’s education through the pandemic and comes despite the many stories from the early days of lockdown of Zoom bombing incidents and the like.

The analysis also shows a higher level of trust and confidence among BAME respondents than non-BAME (34% v 27%), between urban and rural respondents (38% v 21%) and, less surprisingly, between 18-24 year olds and 55+ respondents (39% v 18%).

Overall therefore there are a number of confidence gaps to be aware of – by age, ethnicity, gender, geography and parental status – which can be important for brands and organisations to be aware of.

Unsurprisingly given the widely reported spike in scams and fraud through the pandemic the public’s key concern when it comes to their personal data is it being used for fraudulent purposes.

Conversely, the number one reason given for a having a high level of trust & confidence is the role of legislation, in 2021 this supplanted the previous number one – good previous experience – which dropped to number three in 2021 below trust (I trust them or their policies).

This a major positive for the regulatory approach and suggests that GDPR is having a positive impact on consumer confidence in the digital economy – one of the primary objectives of the regulations. That said there is a relatively small number (c10%) who have chosen to exercise any of their data rights under GDPR to date. Interestingly BAME, Parent and Urban respondents are more likely to have exercised any of their data rights than their peers – suggesting a positive correlation between the exercise of rights and high confidence in personal data processing for these audiences.

There is an important lesson for brands and organisations here. Embracing and responding positively to rights requests can be an important driver of confidence and trust in their approach to personal data processing. We should therefore be including this within the scope of our CX focus.

It is also worth being aware of which sectors the public trust most when it comes to personal data processing as shown below:

Here we can see that financial services, despite a dip in confidence between 2020-2021 continue to outperform any other business sector and are trusted more than local government for example.

This is only a brief introduction to the ICO research, we will pick up on a little more of the analysis in our August 2021 newsletter where we will introduce the results of an important piece of proprietary consumer research undertaken by Profusion in July 2021.

And to leave you with a little teaser, the ICO found that, despite all of their expressed concerns, 53% of respondents will click through a cookie notice as quickly as possible. This is consistent with our own findings and with consumers continued willingness to engage in a value exchange when it comes to personal data and online services.

Until next time.

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