Information Commissioner's Office
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Consumers concerned about how their personal details are shared, survey shows

Launch of ICO Corporate Plan setting out priorities for 2015-18

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, says companies must do more to inform consumers about the way their information is being shared.

The Commissioner’s comments come as new figures show that 85% of people are concerned about how their personal information is passed or sold to other organisations. The survey also shows 77% of people are concerned about organisations not keeping their personal details secure.

The UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said yesterday:

“Providing people with enough information to understand how their details will be used is a basic principle of data protection. While the vast majority of companies are meeting the letter of the law, figures released today show that most people remain concerned about how their information is being shared. This situation is not good for consumers, or for businesses.

“We are set for a new data protection framework in the next three years, but there are still basic things that organisations can be doing today, not only to comply with the current legislation, but also to prepare for the future regulatory landscape.

“Businesses should take the results of our survey as a prompt to address consumers’ concerns and provide clearer information to explain when people’s details will be shared and with whom. Getting these basics right today will not only improve consumer trust but also help a business along the road to future compliance.”

Mr Graham’s comments come as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published its corporate plan. The plan sets out the ICO’s priorities for 2015-18. These priorities include:

  • preparing for a period of substantial change with the implementation of a new EU data protection framework and the outcome of the Ministry of Justice’s Triennial Review;
  • developing and promoting an ICO privacy seal scheme as a means of demonstrating a commitment to good data protection practices; and
  • engaging with transparency and Open Data initiatives to ensure a balanced information rights perspective.

The ICO’s Annual Track survey was undertaken by ComRes on behalf of the ICO. The survey involved carrying out online interviews with1,575 individuals for their views on data protection matters.

The ICO has published a quiz that you can take part in to find out how much you know about people’s attitudes towards how their personal information is used.

The survey also involved asking 1,422 people for their thoughts on freedom of information issues. The key findings from this section of the survey were:

  • 75% of respondents think it’s important that private companies acting on behalf of public authorities should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • 79% of people think it’s important that the regulator is independent of government.

Mr Graham said:

“The ICO has to find the right balance of the public interest – between openness to the outside and necessary frankness inside organisations. These decisions are not straightforward and are sometimes controversial, but as guardians of the public interest we are properly accountable to Parliament and the courts.”

Further reading

ICO corporate plan 2015-18

About the ICO

PDF (328.37K)

Annual Track 2014 (Topline findings)

About the ICO

PDF (357.27K)

Privacy and data protection quiz

About the ICO

Notes to Editors

About the ICO 

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO is on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. Read more in the ICO blog and e-newsletter.Our Press Office page provides more information for journalists.
  4. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with your rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection

About the ComRes survey

  1. The surveys were conducted between 15th and 21st August 2014 by ComRes. The full dataset is available on the ComRes website at
  2. ComRes ( is a leading research consultancy and founding member of the British Polling Council.


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