Startup Weekly

Research has revealed that one in four young British adults trust social media platforms with their data, compared to just one in 20 of their parent’s generation.

According to the findings released by the Open Data Institute (ODI), an overwhelming majority (94%) said trust was important in deciding whether to share personal data. Interestingly, 64% of respondents said they would share some personal data with an organisation they knew, compared to just 36% for an organisation they don’t.

The data also showed that most consumers (64%) trust the NHS and healthcare organisations with their personal data, ranking ahead of friends and family (57%), banks (57%), local government (41%) and online retailers (22%).

Just one in 10 said they would trust social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter with personal data.

Half of respondents (47%) said they would share medical data about themselves, if it helped develop new medicines and treatments – this being the most popular ‘data trade off’ in the survey.

Some 37% of participants (and 49% of 18-24 year olds) said they would share data about their background and health preferences if it helped advance academic understanding of areas of medicine or psychology.

Additionally, 28% said they were comfortable with personal data such as their online activity being used to monitor crime and keep them from harm. Rather tellingly, 38% of 18-24 year olds said they would share data about their spending habits if it helped them save them money.

Dr Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute, commented on the findings: ‘When data is working hard for consumers, it should help them make better decisions, save money, and present them with wider benefits and opportunities. This survey shows that more people need to understand how to share data confidently to reap these rewards.

“At the ODI we want consumers to feel more confident and informed about data. Data literacy is not a solution for all problems — we will always need strong regulation and well-designed, ethical services — but it is part of the answer to building and retaining trust in data.

“Improving data literacy is partly down to organisations designing services that are far more proactive and transparent in explaining how they use customer data. This makes it easier for consumers to use their increased rights in the forthcoming EU data protection regulations, which put them more in control of personal data about them.  Additionally, organisations need to be clear about what customers will get in return for sharing data.

“It is also important that educators include data literacy in courses both in formal education environments, and informal environments for people not in full-time education,” concluded Tennison.