By Daniel Hunter
The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, is calling on UK businesses to do more to inform consumers about the way their information is being shared, after new figures show that 85% are concerned about how their personal data is being shared.
The survey also shows 77% of people are concerned about organisations not keeping their personal details secure.
The UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: “Providing people with enough information to understand how their details will be used is a basic principle of data protection. While the vast majority of companies are meeting the letter of the law, figures released today show that most people remain concerned about how their information is being shared. This situation is not good for consumers, or for businesses.
“We are set for a new data protection framework in the next three years, but there are still basic things that organisations can be doing today, not only to comply with the current legislation, but also to prepare for the future regulatory landscape.
“Businesses should take the results of our survey as a prompt to address consumers’ concerns and provide clearer information to explain when people’s details will be shared and with whom. Getting these basics right today will not only improve consumer trust but also help a business along the road to future compliance.”
Mr Graham’s comments come as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published its corporate plan. The plan sets out the ICO’s priorities for 2015-18. These priorities include:
- preparing for a period of substantial change with the implementation of a new EU data protection framework and the outcome of the Ministry of Justice’s Triennial Review;
- developing and promoting an ICO privacy seal scheme as a means of demonstrating a commitment to good data protection practices; and
- engaging with transparency and Open Data initiatives to ensure a balanced information rights perspective.
The ICO’s Annual Track survey was undertaken by ComRes on behalf of the ICO. The survey involved carrying out online interviews with 1,575 individuals for their views on data protection matters.
The survey also involved asking 1,422 people for their thoughts on freedom of information issues. The key findings from this section of the survey were:
- 75% of respondents think it’s important that private companies acting on behalf of public authorities should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
- 79% of people think it’s important that the regulator is independent of government.
Mr Graham said: “The ICO has to find the right balance of the public interest — between openness to the outside and necessary frankness inside organisations. These decisions are not straightforward and are sometimes controversial, but as guardians of the public interest we are properly accountable to Parliament and the courts.”