The protection of personal data remains an important concern for citizens, according to a new Eurobarometer published by the European Commission on data protection. The survey, titled “Data Protection “, has been requested by the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers and coordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication, is designed to support the finalization of the data protection reform by studying the views of EU citizens about issues surrounding data protection.
The survey took place from February 28 to March 9 and 27,980 respondents from different social and demographic groups belonging to all European countries were interviewed.
Respondents were asked about:
- level of control they feel to have over the personal data they provide online, their concerns about any perceived lack of control and about the monitoring of their activities;
- attitudes to providing personal information and issues such as online profiling;
- awareness of their rights, and whether they know about their national public authority in charge of data protection;
- whether they would complain to this or another agency should their data ever be lost or stolen
- whether they think they should have to give express permission for their data to be gathered and used
- whether they trust various authorities and bodies to protect their information
- what they would do and what they would expect to happen should their data be lost or stolen
- level of knowledge when it comes to the conditions of data collection
- whether they read the privacy statements provided by online services
- level of awareness of privacy settings on social networking sites in terms of how easy they find it to change the settings, or why they have not done so.
A last section of the survey deals with the way in which Europeans use the Internet.
Below some interesting findings extracted from the survey report.
- Nearly nine out of ten Europeans (89%) mention it is important for them to have the same rights and protections over their personal information, regardless of the country in which the authority or private company offering the service is based13. Of these, 51% say it is very important, and 38% say it is fairly important. Only 6% say that this is not important
- More than eight out of ten respondents feel that they do not have complete control over their personal data
- More than six out of ten respondents say that they do not trust landline or mobile phone companies and internet service providers (62%) or online businesses (63%)
- Only a fifth of respondents fully read privacy statements (18%)
- 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 Europeans say they would want to be informed should their data ever be lost or stolen
- At EU level, more than four out of ten people use online banking every week, although usage varies substantially from country to country: 83% of people in Finland use online banking on a weekly basis, compared with only 8% of people in Greece
- Two-thirds of respondents think it is important to be able to transfer personal information from an old service provider to a new one
The report can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_431_en.pdf.