The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned organisations that they should be “doing everything they can” to keep personal data of customers safe, especially because consumers are becoming more resigned to the fact that their private information is being collected by private firms.
It follows a previous ICO survey that suggested that three-quarters of people are concerned that businesses don’t keep their data secure.
The latest warning comes as a survey by YouGov on behalf of data security firm CloudMask suggests that 72 per cent of British consumers are worried about personal data such as email, chat logs, files and pictures being accessed by governments and large technology firms.
But while many are aware of the risks associated with handing over personal information to businesses, the report suggests that many feel that they aren’t able to sign up to many online services without revealing information such as their name, address and date of birth. Indeed, 70 per cent of respondents told CloudMask that they’d shared information in this way.
That’s why the ICO has told businesses that it’s ultimately their responsibility to act correctly when handling data about their customers.
“Consumers are becoming much more aware of the need to protect their personal data online and even though this survey shows they might be prepared to pay to do that, it is still ultimately the responsibility of the businesses who hold that data to make sure they follow the laws around data protection,” said Garreth Cameron, group manager of business and industry for the ICO.
“Businesses should be doing everything they can to keep information safe by investing in consumer privacy online, both in terms of education, increased protection and good practice,” he warned.
CloudMask CEO Wael Aggan added that data protection is an area in which both businesses and consumers need to ensure good practices.
“Gone are the days when consumers took a back seat in protecting their data online. High-profile data breaches, including celebrities’ nude photographs being pasted over the internet, credit card details being hacked and governments gaining permission to access Google and Microsoft customer data, are forcing consumers to take more control of their privacy,” he said.
“Businesses need to offer better protection and if consumers don’t want to pay for it, it’s still their right to keep their data private. This shouldn’t always have to be at their cost,” Aggan said.