Consumers call for a privacy charter to protect their personal data online

A survey carried out by KPMG and Censuswide of more than 1,000 consumers has revealed their anger at the current legal situation allowing apps and websites access to swathes of their personal data with seeming impunity. 

The majority of those questioned (82%) said it was time for a privacy charter.

Current legislation in the UK allows the information commissioner, the public body set up to uphold information rights, to impose a fine of up to £500,000 where regulations have been breached. But this system was created in 2010 and consumers want more done to protect their privacy.

For example, 83% said it was wrong that their personal data was controlled by third parties, and a further 81% agreed that social media companies such as Facebook and LinkedIn should protect users’ privacy.

>See also: The big debate: do we need a privacy charter for the internet?

In addition, 86% of respondents said they would like to know exactly who had access to their information and for what purpose. And in a reflection that the mood of consumers is hardening, 82% of those questioned said they should have recourse in law if a company misused their information while 84% agreed they should get compensation if a company made money from their data.

“Consumers are saying that ‘enough is enough’,” said Stephen Bonner, partner for KPMG’s Information Protection and Business Resilience team. “We hear almost daily of companies, both large and small being hacked, but what we hear less of is the toll this has taken on those people whose data has been stolen.

“Consumers would like to see the creation of a compliance framework within which everyone can operate and which would provide some level of comfort that consumer needs are being more widely considered.”

As well as data protection in the broadest sense, the public has also become weary of being aggressively targeted by companies using customer mobile phones to track their location.

When asked about this, 62% said they did not want to receive targeted advertising in this way, while a further 60% said they did not want to get advertising based around their specific needs at all.

>See also: Achieving trust in a digital world

“Again, what this shows is that consumers have become tired of the intrusiveness of some of these marketing tactics,” Stephen added. “People do not want to feel like they are being ‘tracked’ for marketing purposes and indeed, 75% of respondents told us that they still get bombarded with marketing even after they have unsubscribed from online services. 

“What we have found is that companies need to think long and hard about how they talk to their customers and potential customers, or there is a real risk they will turn them off to their products rather than driving new business.”

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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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