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January 2, 2014

Government bodies still most trusted to “own” personal information

EY survey finds central government bodies are more trusted by consumers with personal data than financial institutions and supermarkets.

By Claire Vanner

Despite high profile surveillance and data gathering incidents, consumers still appear to trust government bodies more than private sector organisations when it comes to having access to their personal information, according to a recent online survey by EY.

Over half (55%) of consumers say they are comfortable sharing their personal data with central government bodies, such as the NHS and HM Revenue and Customs.

When it comes to private sector organisations, however, consumers appear more sceptical about sharing their personal information with even when these provide day-to-day services. 26% would be happy to share personal details with their energy provider, while just over 32% would be happy to share their data with financial institutions and only 20% with supermarkets.

"What our survey shows is a shift in attitudes and practices towards how consumers treat their personal data, and the access they will allow to their data, both now and in future," said Steve Wilkinson, EY managing partner, UK & Ireland client service.

"Despite well publicised government mis-steps towards data privacy, consumers still appear more willing to share personal data with public sector organisations. On the other hand, there is a growing trend to revoke the access that private companies have to such information. As a result, we are likely to see a change in which bodies have the greatest access to customer information in the next five-to-10 years."

In total, 3% of business decision makers expect local government to become a valuable source of customer data 10 years from now and a further 4% of business executives predict that central government will become a provider of customer insight.

Steve comments on the significance of the results: "Organisations are currently heavily investing in new solutions that can help them capture the growing volume of customer information and deliver insights that can be used to improve the customers’ experience.

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"Despite the explosion in Big Data – and new technologies to capitalise on the opportunities that it affords – few organisations are currently thinking abut their long-term investment or identifying what will be the biggest sources of information in 10 years’ time. Business executives should focus on analysing the change in customer attitudes towards personal information sharing, to avoid rendering current investments pointless."

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