Two-thirds of Irish people fear their data being sold without consent

9 Jan 2019

From left: Broadcaster Jonathan McCrea, Fexco Corporate Payments CEO Ruth McCarthy and IT Tralee’s Brendan O’Donnell. Image: Jason Clarke Photography

Research from IT Tralee and Fexco shows Irish people are concerned about how businesses use their personal data.

Ahead of the 2019 Cantillon Conference taking place in Tralee this March, research by Fexco and IT Tralee was launched today (9 January). It examined how people in Ireland feel about the use of personal data by organisations, as well as common misconceptions many continue to hold. More than 1,000 adults were surveyed in the research.

Many people worry about their personal data

According to the research, more than two-thirds (67pc) of adults are worried that their personal data is being sold without their permission, while a similar proportion (65pc) are equally concerned about the potential compromise of their right to privacy.

The concern about privacy and data selling is in sharp contrast with the knowledge people have about what actually happens to their information once it is provided to a company. Just 21pc were aware of what their information was used for and only 22pc could accurately confirm how long their personal data could be legally stored for.

A distrust for authority also emerged as a major theme within the research, with 50pc of those surveyed agreeing the Government holds too much of their personal data and 19pc saying the same thing about their employer.

Are companies asking for too much information?

The research also shows that 88pc of respondents believe companies do not require the volume of data that they ask for. 81pc of respondents would not sign up for a service or use a product they deemed too invasive. Those aged between 55 and 64 are highly likely to avoid signing up (92pc), while 67pc of 18- to 24-year-olds are less likely to claim data requests as off-putting.

Ruth McCarthy, CEO of Fexco Corporate Payments, said: “It is clear from the research launched today that companies need to become more adept and efficient in how they collect and store data, ensuring they gather only what is required to maintain the customer relationship, and that it is securely stored.

“It is worth consumers bearing in mind that when a service is offered for free in exchange for provision of personal data, then clearly someone in the value chain is finding a way of monetising that data.”

Breda O’Dwyer, senior lecturer and project lead for research and engagement at IT Tralee, said: “While the research reveals that data can be perceived as a negative by consumers, it is crucial to present the positive case for data and how it can be used to establish cause, protect consumers’ information and predict future trends.”

While people are concerned about their privacy, the survey shows that the majority are happy to share personal data if a benefit is made clear to them. Only 20pc said they would share data to improve experience with gaming platforms, marketing companies and retailers, while 74pc were happy to share data to improve the healthcare and educational systems.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects