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80% of people do not trust companies with personal data

24 September 2008

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Research has found that nearly four out of five people in Britain believe their personal information online is not secure.

An even higher number, 89% of respondents, believe that reckless or repeated data breaches should be a criminal matter and punishable by imprisonment, with four out of five people saying it should be aone strike and youre out” rule when it comes to data loss.

Although this research was conducted in relation to commercial companies, this low level of trust could have a similar impact in healthcare, and may have a vast impact on the reputation of developments such as the electronic patient record. The majority of companies polled (76%) said they expect to lose customers if a data loss or breach occur; would this be the same for a GP practice?

“These statistics are very concerning for business, particularly in the current unstable market conditions,” said John Brigden, senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Symantec. “Not only do they risk losing large numbers of customers following an incident of data loss, but almost 60% of companies said it would be a lot harder to attract new customers once the reputation had been tarnished.”

A further 75% of consumers are concerned by how much information companies hold about them, whether online or offline, and a staggering 93% will not provide personal details to a company which has past problems of losing data. When questioned on the trustworthiness of public companies, half of those polled rated the government as the least trustworthy organisation.