Privacy survey: Consumers have poor understanding of data privacy yet think they are taking proactive steps

As lawmakers consider regulating use of personal data a survey from Entrust shows a muddled understanding of what is at stake.

The vast majority of consumers have a poor understanding of data privacy issues yet think they are proactive in protecting themselves, according to a survey of US and UK residents.

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More than 83% of 1,000 people surveyed said they were proactive in maintaining their data privacy however, they did not take basic precautions to protect their data -- showing a lack of education without a corresponding drop in confidence. 

The survey from Entrust, a US Identity management and data privacy company, also found that 64% are willing to share personal data if it makes it easier to access key services. 

And a whopping 83% say they are comfortable storing their biometric data with apps or third-party identity verification systems such as those at airports.

Consumers exhibited a split personality in that they had high confidence in their abilities to protect their personal data but 79% also said they were somewhat or highly concerned about their data. 

About one third (34%) of consumers were very pessimistic saying that they believed they had little control over their data and nearly one-quarter said the issues were too complex to understand and 30% did not know where to begin.

A key difference between countries: UK consumers had a significantly higher trust in their employers, banks and government agencies to hold their personal data secure. 

Major Internet platforms have come under fire for their use and misuse of consumer personal data. In 2021 US and UK lawmakers are looking at potential regulations to control the use of personal data. This will have huge consequences on multi-billion dollar online advertising markets and data sellers. 

The Entrust survey shows that voters will need to become better educated to be able to understand and support upcoming data privacy regulations. 

More survey findings are here.