Nearly half UK adults want digital history deleted

Given more powers over how their personal data is collected and used, nearly half (47 per cent) of UK adults would like some aspects of their digital history to be deleted forever, according to new research from Accenture.

The management consultancy surveyed 2,000 UK adults in March, in order to understand how people feel about the personal information that is collected about them online, and what aspects of their data they would most like to be forgotten under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to be implemented on 25 May.

Seventy percent of people surveyed welcomed the new regulations, with worries about data security (68 per cent) and a lack of control over hidden data (62 per cent) being the two biggest concerns. Others were anxious about their general privacy (40 per cent), the fact they did not know how their data was being used (37 per cent), or had worries that their digital history was embarrassing (36 per cent).

Overall, the survey found that 70 per cent agreed that people should have the right to be forgotten online. The five most popular things that people would like to be deleted from their digital history are: photos of themselves posted by others, embarrassing social media posts, search engine history, shopping habits, and credit history.

Nick Taylor, managing director and UK lead at Accenture Security, said: “In the past, consumers have voted with their wallets; the GDPR now means they will also vote with their data.

“This research shows that many people don’t fully believe companies will do right by their personal information and so businesses clearly have a job to do to build digital trust,” he continued, adding: “GDPR represents an opportunity for companies to prove themselves, deepen digital trust and do more, not less, with consumer data.”

The research also revealed who UK adults do and do not trust with their personal data. People were least trusting of marketing companies (75 per cent), social media networks (71 per cent) and dating sites (70 per cent), with over half (54 per cent) saying they saw no benefit to letting companies hold their data.

Respondents were most trusting of their personal data with banks, insurance companies and the health services.

Respondents felt particularly uncomfortable with data being collected from their personal email (72 per cent), social media (67 per cent), smartphone (63 per cent) and voice assistant (58 per cent).

Lu Zurawski, consumer payments practice lead for EMEA at ACI Worldwide, said that data privacy has been thrust into the public consciousness recently, partly due to the Cambridge Analytica story that continues to unfold in the run-up to the GDPR deadline.

“I predict a wave of class actions once GDPR has come into force, brought forward by legal groups and consumers, fuelled by occasional data breaches – both physical and legal,” he commented. “This likely to be noisy and chaotic, but it could pave the way away from traditional definitions of B2B and B2C towards a personalised data economy, where consumers become far more aware of the potential value of their own data, and of their opportunities to convert this potential value via new so-called ‘Me2B’ propositions.”

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