• Helen Pritchett

How willing are you to share your data?

Data and its usage can be a very touchy subject. We all want to protect our identities and our personal data but, at the same time, we acknowledge the benefits of sharing data in order to improve customer service and the positive customer experience we all crave.

If we didn't share data we would spend our lives filling and re-filling in forms and reciting our personal data to each and every call centre agent we speak to; constantly repeating ourselves.

Sharing data is vital in our high-tech society, but we should be circumspect with whom we share such intimate and delicate data.

A recent survey was carried out by pollsters YouGov for the Open Data Institute (ODI), which asked it to find out what the public thinks about when they're sharing data. The results showed that the British public are much more likely to hand over personal data to an organisation they know than one they don't, and they are willing to accept a trade-off if it will help science – or themselves.

The survey, carried out on 28-29 November 2017, and taking in the views of 2,023 adults, found that trusting the body they need to share data with is important to all but 3 per cent of respondents.

People were more reticent about sharing data that appears, at least objectively, to give away more information about them as individuals – like their personal tastes and financial or health status. 

About 20% said they would share their age, religion or ethnicity with a body they didn't know, but the idea of passing on medical history to an unknown body was unpalatable for all but 4% of respondents. 5% said they'd be OK with sharing credit history and 7 per cent their location.

In what could be seen as a potential blow to privacy activists, some respondents even suggested they would be happy for data to be used for monitoring crime - even if that meant they were under more surveillance.

What was clear from the survey was that people feel more comfortable sharing data when they were clearly told why it was needed, what is was going to be used for. Jeni Tennison, chief exec of the ODI, said that it wants consumers to "feel more confident and informed" about data so they can use it to make better decisions.

So the moral seems to be to treat your data subjects like gown ups, keep them informed and to how and when their data will be used and don't abuse their trust.

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