Public anxiety over data sharing is in danger of becoming of a major issue of the information age, and businesses and government need to act in order to reduce fears.
That's according to The Data Dialogue, a newly launched report from think-tank Demos commissioned by O2. Demos surveyed members of the public to discover their thoughts about information sharing, covering areas ranging from supermarket loyalty schemes to location-based data and online purchasing histories.
"It's a matter that affects all of us, sharing personal information," said O2 CEO Ronan Dunne at the launch of the report in Westminster.
"We're in danger of this becoming one of the big consumer issues of our time," he added.
The Data Dialogue suggests that while there are increasing benefits of sharing information in the digital age, there are also legitimate concerns about privacy and how the data is used. It calls for businesses and government to better explain to consumers how information is collected and used, and to give consumers more power over their data, including the option to remove it.
"Data and information sharing is the next big consumer issue. However, neither companies nor regulators can do it all for people – instead, consumers must be put in the driving seat," said Jamie Bartlett, senior researcher for Demos and author of the report.
"The public will welcome measures to give them more control over personal information – specifically knowing what is held about them, and being able to withdraw it if they wish."
The survey, by Populous, sampled 5,010 adults aged 18 and over between 9 and 14 March this year.