Be transparent about data handling to build customer trust, Deloitte says

UK business need to do more to educate Internet users on what’s happening to their data and why, according to a new study by professional services firm Deloitte.

The firm hired Ipsos MORI to poll over 2,000 UK citizens on their views on data collection by private and public sector organisations online.

It found that the proportion of Internet users that is "fully aware" that their data is collected and used while they surf online has fallen 10% year-on-year to 35%.

Only 38% of people surveyed are confident that companies will keep their data safe, while 78% believe their details may be sold on to other organisations.

The survey suggests that the so-called "cookie law", which obliges companies to warn web visitors that they will use cookies to track their behaviour, has failed to raise awareness of the practice. More than 50% of respondents said they usually ignore notices about cookies or have not seen them, and 38% said they had never heard of the law at all.

The report also looked at the privacy policies of a selection of popular websites. It found that if they were to read the privacy policy of every website they visit in a year, the average person would have to spend 31 hours reading.

Deloitte said these policies should be clearer and more transparent. “The information given in these policies should be an integral part of a more transparent and ongoing customer engagement approach,” advises the report.

The report stressed that if businesses wish to extract value from their customers' data, it is essential that they build trust through transparency. 

“People who are confident that companies tell them what data is collected and how it is used are between two and three times more likely also to be confident that companies handle, share and use their data to deliver personal benefits,” said the report.

It also found that a growing number of people are happy to receive information that has been effectively targeted based on their interests. It found that 32% of 18 to 34-year-olds are happy to receive tailored marketing communications compared to only 19% in 2012.

“The Data Nation survey shows that the latent demand for privacy has never been greater,” Deloitte wrote.

But as businesses build a more transparent marketplace for personal data, privacy will become “an important market force and a new currency for growth", it added. 

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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