Public Services > Central Government

ODI online personal data sharing survey shows the younger you are, the more you’ll share

David Bicknell Published 12 February 2018

1 in 4 young British adults would trust social media platforms with data, against 1 in 20 of their parents’ generation; survey also found healthcare organisations are most trusted with consumers’ personal data


An Open Data Institute (ODI) survey has examined the current attitudes of British adults online towards sharing their personal data.

The research, carried out online by YouGov from a total sample size of 2,023 adults, found that age affects people’s comfort in sharing their data.  One in five of 18 to 24 year olds said they would feel comfortable about sharing their date of birth with an organisation they didn't know. In contrast for 45 to 54 year-olds, the figure was just 8%.

38% of 18 to 24 year olds also said they would be happy to share data about their spending habits to help save them money via things such as new savings accounts, insurance policies, shopping discounts. For over 55s, the figure was just 15%.

One in four young British adults said they trust social media platforms with their data, compared to just one in twenty of their parents’ generation.

In general, the greater the trust and knowledge they have of organisations increases consumers’ likelihood of sharing personal data about them. 94% said trust was important in deciding whether to share personal data, while 64% would share some personal data with an organisation they know, compared to just 36% for an organisation they don’t know.

The survey also found that healthcare organisations are the most trusted organisations with consumers’ personal data. 64% of consumers trust the NHS and healthcare organisations with their personal data, ranking top ahead of friends and family (57%), banks (57%), local government (41%) and online retailers (22%).

Just one in ten people trust social media organisations such as Facebook and Twitter with personal data about them, as discussed in a recently published report by Dunnhumby and the ODI looking at opportunities in the retail grocery sector thanks to the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation. 

The survey also examined people’s attitudes to sharing data. One in three (34%) respondents said nothing would make them feel more comfortable about sharing personal data about themselves.

A third (33%) of respondents said they would feel more comfortable about sharing data if organisations explained to them as customers how personal data about them will be used and shared.

Just 9% said they already feel comfortable about sharing data about themselves, and 18% said they would welcome step by step instructions from an organisation about how to share data safely.

The survey also found that consumers are prepared to make worthy trade-offs to share data about them if it benefits themselves and others in society.

Nearly half of respondents (47%) would share medical data about themselves if it helped develop new medicines and treatments.  37% of people (and 49% of 18-24 year olds) said they would share data about their background and health preferences if it helped advance academic understanding of areas such as medicine or psychology. 28% were comfortable with personal data such as their online activity being used to monitor crime and keep them from harm.

Dr Jeni Tennison, chief executive at the ODI said, “When data is working hard for consumers, it should help them make better decisions, save money, and present them with wider benefits and opportunities. This survey shows that more people need to understand how to share data confidently to reap these rewards.

‘At the ODI we want consumers to feel more confident and informed about data. Data literacy is not a solution for all problems — we will always need strong regulation and well-designed, ethical services — but it is part of the answer to building and retaining trust in data.

She continued, “Improving data literacy is partly down to organisations designing services that are far more proactive and transparent in explaining how they use customer data .This makes it easier for consumers to use their increased rights in the forthcoming EU data protection regulations, which put them more in control of personal data about them. Additionally, organisations need to be clear about what customers will get in return for sharing data.

“It is also important that educators include data literacy in courses both in formal education environments, and informal environments for people not in full-time education,” Tennison concluded.

Attitudes towards data sharing dataset

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.