Transparency and choice needed to address growing UK online privacy concerns and maintain customer trust

London - 11 July, 2012 - The latest TRUSTe privacy research published today, shows that UK consumer concern about online privacy is growing, with 94% of consumers worried about it and 54% more concerned than a year ago. The survey shows that the impact on businesses could be significant with consumers engaging less with companies they don’t trust, but there is also evidence that transparency and consumer choice can improve favourability.

The TRUSTe 2012 UK Consumer Data Privacy Study was conducted online by Harris Interactive from 31 May to 6 June, just after enforcement of the EU Cookie Directive began. The research findings will be launched at the TRUSTe Data Privacy Summit in London today where representatives from global brands, publishers, advertisers, law firms and regulators are meeting to consider how best to manage data privacy and the potential impact of the research findings on UK businesses.

The headline findings on UK consumer attitudes to online privacy are:

  • 94% of consumers worry about their online privacy - 54% are more concerned than one year ago
  • 27% of consumers are more concerned with mobile privacy than website privacy
  • Consumers engage less with companies they do not trust – leading to lower purchases (29%), app downloads (68%) and sharing of information (86%)
  • Consumers believe advertisers, publishers and ad networks are all responsible for safeguarding their privacy, but trust themselves most

TRUSTe’s research also highlights that transparency is key if businesses are to address these concerns. For example, 79% of consumers are aware of online behavioural advertising (OBA), 53% do not like it and 42% believe that personally identifiable information (PII) is attached to tracking activity. However favourability towards this kind of advertising almost doubles when consumers are assured that any data that could identify them personally is not used.

Consumers also reward companies for good privacy practices with 51% more inclined to click on an advertisement that gives them the option to opt out of online behavioural advertising and 55% are more inclined to do business with publishers and advertisers that give them the option to opt-out.

Advertisers can increase favourability by 42% through participation in the EDAA self-regulation programme and businesses can increase trust and engagement through independent privacy certification schemes. 60% of UK consumers said they checked for independent verification of privacy standards. The research shows that TRUSTe is the most familiar UK privacy brand with one in two UK consumers recognising the green TRUSTe certified privacy seal.

Speaking in London ahead of TRUSTe’s Data Privacy Summit, Chris Babel, CEO TRUSTe said:

“The recent EU Cookie Directive has put third party tracking and online behavioural advertising under the spotlight in the UK and forced advertisers, publishers and brands to consider their data privacy practices and how they communicate these to their consumers.

Although our research shows that consumer concern in the UK is growing, it is reassuring to see how positively consumers respond to advertisers who adopt self-regulation schemes such as the EDAA programme and seek out businesses that demonstrate a commitment to good privacy practices through an independent privacy certification programme.

At TRUSTe we are committed, through our research programme and events such as the Data Privacy Summit in London today, to providing the consumer insight and solutions that businesses need to adapt to the constantly changing privacy and compliance landscape and ensure they remain ahead of the curve.”

TRUSTe has recently launched five data privacy certification solutions in the UK for websites, mobile sites, mobile apps, and data collection. For more details go to http://truste.com/about-TRUSTe/press-room/news_truste_lauches_new_data_privacy_certifications

Notes to editors:

  1. TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across their customer, employee, and vendor channels. Our SaaS-based DPM Platform gives users control over all phases of data privacy management from conducting assessments and implementing compliance controls to managing ongoing monitoring. Our DPM Services, including assessments and certifications, are delivered by an expert team of privacy professionals. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on TRUSTe to minimize compliance risk and protect their brand.
  2. The TRUSTe 2012 UK Consumer Data Privacy Study was conducted online by Harris Interactive, on behalf of TRUSTe among a total of 1,027 UK adults aged 18 and older from the Harris Interactive Online Consumer Panel. The interviews were conducted from 31 May to 6 June 2012 via a self-administered online survey, averaging 19 minutes in length. Complete survey methodologies, including weighting variables and significance notations are available on request. To view the TRUSTe 2012 UK Consumer Data Privacy Study go to: http://www.truste.com/british-consumer-data-privacy-study
  3. The TRUSTe Data Privacy Summit is taking place at The Hospital Club on 11 July 2012 with delegates from global brands, publishers and advertisers alongside regulators and compliance/privacy experts. Speakers include the Association of Online Publishers, BBC, DataGuidance, Exelate, Havas Digital, Information Commissioner’s Office, IDG, and Promontory. For further details of this and future TRUSTe events see: http://www.truste.co.uk/eu-privacy-resources
  4. For TRUSTe UK media enquiries and interview requests please contact Eleanor Treharne-Jones at +44 (0) 7811 093648 or e-mail eleanor@truste.com