Data Confusion Causes ‘Privacy Paradox’

August 30, 2018

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  • New report outlines key themes to ensure best ‘data privacy’ practice
  • Comes as three quarters of UK public remain concerned for their online privacy

A new report out today (30th Aug) has revealed that the UK is suffering from what researchers have coined the ‘privacy paradox’.

The study, produced for the Carnegie UK Trust by leading research firm Ipsos MOR Scotland, shows that three quarters of the country are concerned about their privacy online*. But, many people fail to take the necessary steps to better protect their personal data – either because they don’t know how, choose not to, or are not fully aware of the possible risks.

With so much data now collected about people, from so many sources, on a daily basis there is also a suggestion that many people simply feel powerless and feel that trying to protect their privacy online is a helpless task.

Other key findings in the report include that poorer households appear more vulnerable to privacy risks online; and that people generally feel more comfortable sharing data with public sector organisations than private companies.

The report also found that in many situations people are willing to make ‘trade-offs’ where they freely give access to their data in order to get access to goods or a service that they want, but also for ‘public good’.

Douglas White, Head of Advocacy, at Carnegie UK Trust, said: “The question of how we define, value and protect our privacy in the digital age is a hugely significant and complex challenge. This year alone we have had both the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the implementation of GDPR legislation – which, for very different reasons, have brought the issue of data privacy to the forefront of public interest and attention.”

“The evidence review that we have published today with Ipsos MORI Scotland shows that most people do care about privacy online – but that as a society, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone has the information and skills they need to make the best decisions for them about what data they share, how it is used and how they can best protect themselves.”

The report sets out 13 themes to inform decision makers on issues that should take into account of when designing policy and practical interventions to boost public skills and awareness on privacy issues. It also calls for more research to be undertaken to track progress and understand the impact and implications for different members of society.


The report is available to view here:


*2017 Gigya, 2015 Big Brother Watch survey, & Eurobarometer, 2015.


For more information contact Kirsty or Nicole at [email protected] or 0131 226 2363 / 07792831834

Notes to editor

  • The report has been commissioned as part of the Carnegie UK Trust’s ‘Digital Futures’ theme of work which explores how the rapid advances in digital technology can optimise improvements in wellbeing for people across the UK and Ireland, while mitigating risks.
  • The research is based on secondary analysis of 50 pieces of evidence published within the last three years, around citizens’ attitudes and behaviours towards online privacy in the UK, including data from public, private and academic institutions.