On 15 June, the ICO released the results of its research on data protection attitudes in the UK. The results highlight the significant mistrust consumers have over businesses which hold a large amount of their personal data. Only one in four of those surveyed stated that they trust businesses with their personal information.

The survey shows that high street banks are the most trusted to properly handle personal data with internet brands at the other end of the scale as the least trusted. People’s concerns were focused on their information being stolen by criminals, used to make nuisance calls or sold to other companies for marketing.

The research also showed that consumers base their decisions on trust. Respondents were asked how appealing a smart home - that could reduce energy consumption and save money - and a smart car – essentially a car fitted with a telematics device - are. The results show that the more a consumer trusted the business providing the proposition, the more appealing the service.

People are taking an active role in the maintenance of their data digitally, with 25% of people now using ad blockers online and 75% thinking data protection should be taught in schools.

Interestingly, the research also found that attitudes to data protection have not changed in any material way over the last couple of years. Clearly businesses still are not doing enough to reassure consumers about how personal data is used. Conversely, however, well publicised data breaches, for example, TalkTalk have not seemed to change attitudes for the worse.

The key message is that fostering trust is crucial. The now former Information Commissioner Christopher Graham stated “this ought to be a real wake up call to some sectors. Consumer mistrust is never good for business

The results of the research are available here.