With just a few days to go before the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, our new research shows consumers across the UK are overwhelmingly supportive of the new legislation.

Based on interviews with more than 1,500 consumers, we found that over 7 in 10 UK adults are aware of the GDPR.

This figure peaks among 25-44s, with 8 in 10 boasting awareness, dipping to a low of 1 in 2 among 16-24s.

This shows it’s the country’s youngest adults who need the most education in the final days before the new privacy-focused legislation comes into play.

The GDPR Bringing Positive Change

Encouragingly for the EU, there’s widespread belief that the GDPR will be effective.

3 in 4 consumers believe it will have a positive impact on how data is handled by companies.

In fact, just 6% think it will be ineffective, with the other 20% being unsure or wanting more information.

Designed to safeguard an individual’s data, the new legislation has clearly struck a chord with consumers in the UK:

76% describe the GDPR as being extremely or very important to them in relation to their digital lives, and just 2% think it has no importance.

That’s in line with our ongoing research revealing mainstream concerns about data:

Over 6 in 10 in the UK say they’re worried about how their personal data is used by companies.

A similar number express concerns that the internet is eroding their personal privacy.

Consumers Want More Accountability

When asked to explain why the GDPR is important to them, the desire for more accountability tops the list.

58% of consumers want companies to he held accountable for misuse of personal data.

This will be a cause for concern in boardrooms across the country, given the size of the fines that companies will face if customers report a data breach.

Which reasons best describe why you think GDPR is important?
I think companies should be held accountable for any misuse of personal data. 58%
Consumers should reserve the right to permanently delete any personal data from a company’s records. 41%
Explicit consent should be collected before any collection of personal data online. 40%
I want to see standards brought to safeguarding of personal data. 35%
I want transparency on advertising/marketing practices. 34%
I do not trust companies to handle my personal data privacy without these regulations. 27%

Base: 1,250 UK internet users aged 16-64 who are aware of the GDPR.

Banks and Retail Lead in the Trust Stakes

Interestingly, the trust that consumers place in companies to handle their data varies significantly by sector.

Across the five different areas we queried, online banks/payment services and online shopping/retail services have earned the most trust:

Around 2 in 3 have faith in them to handle their data.

This is a reflection of how much work companies in this space have done to secure and protect financial data.

At the other end of the spectrum – and no doubt influenced by recent high-profile media coverage – social networks are the least trusted.

Less than 50% trust them to handle their personal data, with just 8% saying they trust them completely.

Do you trust the following to handle your personal data?
Online shopping / retail service. 65%
Online banking / payment service. 64%
Music / video streaming services. 58%
Search engine / email services. 53%
Social media networks. 48%

Base: 1,250 UK internet users aged 16-64 who are aware of the GDPR. Respondents were asked to select from a 5-point scale where 1= “I do trust this service with my personal data” and 5= “I do not trust this service with my personal data”. Figures shown in the chart are for options 1-3 on this 5-point scale.

Privacy concerns have long been widespread across the UK, but to date, consumers haven’t always been sure how to manage their personal data effectively.

One of the great things about the GDPR is that it places this burden on companies, rather than consumers.

It’s clear that customers of all ages and regions have high expectations for what companies should be doing from May 25th onwards.

About the Research

GlobalWebIndex interviewed 1,629 UK internet users aged 16-64 between April 27th and May 12th 2018. The sample was weighted by age and gender to be representative of the country’s online population. Answers were collected online, with respondents able to complete the survey via any device.


Written by

Jason is Chief Research Officer at GWI. He's the main man who leads our global team of analysts, delivering world-renowned research. He's an in-demand data junkie who you might see popping up on your telly screens every so often to show you what's actually happening in the lives of consumers.

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