By Patrick van Eecke and Mathieu Le Boudec
A recent survey commissioned by the European Commission reveals that data protection remains an important concern for EU citizens.
Key findings of the survey are that:
Control over personal data
- More than eight out of ten respondents feel that they do not have complete control over their personal data they provide online.
- Two-thirds of these respondents are concerned about not having complete control over their personal data.
- Respondents are most concerned about the recording of their activities via payment cards and via mobile phones.
Disclosure of personal data
- Seven out of ten respondents say that providing personal information is an increasing part of modern life and accept that there is no other alternative than to provide it if they want to obtain products or services.
- Over half of respondents disagree that providing personal information is not a big issue for them.
- A majority of people are uncomfortable about Internet companies using information about their online activity to tailor advertisements.
- Two-thirds of respondents think it is important to be able to transfer personal information from an old service provider to a new one.
Management of personal data by other parties and perceived risks
- Nearly seven out of ten respondents say that their explicit approval should be required in all cases before their data is collected and processed.
- Roughly seven out of ten people are concerned about their information being used for a different purpose from the one it was collected for.
- Almost all respondents say they would want to be informed should their data be lost or stolen.
- Two-thirds of people think the public authority or private company handling the data should be the ones to inform them if it has been lost or stolen.
- Only a fifth of respondents fully read privacy statements.
- Most respondents do not read these statements because they find them too long to read or unclear or too difficult to understand.
According to the European Commission these results confirm the need to finalise the on-going data protection reform.