Data Driven Futures

Consumers support crackdown on third party data

Written by Hannah McGrath

Nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of UK adults want to see tougher action on penalising companies that abuse data privacy through misuse of third party data sharing, according to a YouGov study.

The survey of more than 2000 UK internet users, conducted on behalf of data protection platform myGaru found that a year on from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which details of 87 million Facebook users were shared with a third party data firm, consumer attitudes are hardening when it comes to control over data and punishment for breaches.

A total of 89 per cent of respondents said it supported the government’s recent calls for a new code of ethics and tighter regulation to oversee the behaviour of social media companies in the UK.

In addition, around a third (34 per cent) of the public have already made changes to the privacy settings of one or more of their social media accounts last year and 19 per cent said they would make more or new changes in the future.

There is equally little trust amongst consumers about how their personal information is passed on to third parties: the overwhelming majority of UK consumers, 78 per cent, are concerned about how their private data and information on their online behaviour, such as online posts, photos and personal information, are being shared.

However while the Cambridge Analytica scandal may have been a wake-up call, consumers haven’t been fully dissuaded from accessing their social media apps, with only 12 per cent of all respondents have completely cancelled one or more of their social media accounts.

There is also confusion over who the rightful owners of online data, with around a third (34 per cent) of consumers believing that social media companies own private data - and information on their online behaviour collected from their interactions on these websites.
Around 28 per cent didn’t know who the rightful owners are and only around a quarter (24 per cent) believe that this data is owned by them.

Younger respondents were more likely to think that social media companies are the owners of data on their online behaviour, with 43 per cent of 18-24 year olds believing this to be the case.

Responding to the findings, Spyridon Kleitsas, chief executive of myGaru said: “Businesses are accumulating data from customers on an epic scale, but, if data is the new number one global commodity, we need to ensure they are acting responsibly when it comes to how this is shared.

“Part of the problem is that the digital adtech industry is shrouded in mystery and consumers simply aren’t aware of the business model that sits behind this and that social media companies are making vast amounts of money by selling their data to third parties.”