Demos-O2 report sheds light on UK data sharing concerns

Think tank teams up with comms provider to pinpoint online sharing issues.

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Seventy-three per cent of UK adults would feel more comfortable sharing information about themselves online if sites made it easier for them to withdraw their data, research suggests.

The finding is one of a number to be featured in a new report released by think tank Demos on Friday, which was commissioned by comms provider O2.

Over five thousand UK adults contributed responses to the report, with 70 per cent stating that the ability to see what information is held on them would make them more willing to share information.

The report's findings were discussed at length at an event in central London on Friday by representatives from O2, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and consumer rights publication Which?

"[A] controlling issue is the real challenge we have," said Georgina Nelson, privacy lawyer at Which?

She said the main problem with collecting data is that consumers feel they have no control over their information and how it is used.

For example, if they want to take their information off a social networking site, it can be difficult to ascertain whether it has been removed from affiliated websites or applications they might share data with.

"Everyone has the freedom to be forgotten," added Christopher Graham, the UK Information Commissioner.

"The government needs to pay close attention to this report's finding that 70 per cent of people want a 'right to delete' and a 'right to retrieve' their data," said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.

"These rights are in the EU's draft data protection regulation, but UK officials have been arguing to water down or remove them, after pressure from business. But [this] report shows that businesses need customer confidence, which relies on these strong new protections."

In response to the report, O2 said more can be done to establish trust between the consumer and the sites that want their data.

Ronan Dunne, chief executive of O2, said: "In order for the UK to realise the potential in the use of customer data, for the benefit of citizens themselves, there needs to be a certain level of trust established and a fair value exchanged realised."

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