Corsham community seizes chance to understand more about personal data rights

By Anita Jaynes on 22 May, 2018

Local people in Corsham think that their personal data is important to them, but have a relatively low level of awareness about their rights and how to use them, according to new research from Corsham Institute (Ci).

The survey, which is the first stage of Ci’s Your Data, Your Rights project, assessed the extent to which Corsham residents were aware of their data rights and measured their attitudes towards the different ways organisations use their personal information. Over 160 local people completed the online survey in April 2018, just weeks before the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018, offering new data rights to the public.

Nearly half of all respondents (48 per cent) did not know the accepted definition of ‘personal data’, as defined by the Information Commissioner’s Office[1], when given a choice of four options. Additionally, only 18 per cent of people said they knew a lot about the collection of their data and 13 per cent knew a lot about how organisations might use their data.

When asked to identify what personal data is, people correctly highlighted date of birth, address, health records and ID numbers, but significantly fewer people correctly classed location data, genetic data and political opinions as personal data.

The survey revealed that although general knowledge about data rights was low, the majority of people (60 per cent) said they care a lot about how organisations might use their data. In addition, 77 per cent of respondents said they wanted full control over their data.

Interestingly, Corsham residents were also very supportive of their data being used for public good and to improve local services, as well as for their own benefit. 75 per cent of respondents said they would be happy for their data to be used to provide them with the product or service they asked for, 62 per cent to help the NHS, and 50 per cent to improve the services they receive from their local council.

In contrast, only 1 per cent of respondents said they would be happy for their data to be sold for profit.

The research also found that older people were more concerned about how their data is being used, with 87 per cent of over 65s saying they care a lot about the use of their personal data compared to 60 per cent of respondents overall. Over 65s were also keen to make use of their new data rights, with 80 per cent planning to use their right to rectification, compared with 64 per cent overall.

Rachel Neaman, CEO of Ci, said: “It’s clear from our research that despite widespread concern about how private information is being used, many people in Corsham feel poorly informed about their personal data rights and have limited insight into how to take advantage of them. Their overall responses are in line with national polling, but we have found some interesting variations in attitudes between older and younger people, and also a much more positive attitude in our community to sharing data for the public good than we see in the national picture.

“For the next stage of our Your Data, Your Rights project, we’ll be working with groups of local people to develop the approaches and tools that will ensure that Corsham residents are some of the best informed in the country about this crucial topic.

“We want Corsham residents to be at the forefront of digital opportunities and ensure they have the knowledge and ability to maximise the value of their personal data, and we look forward to sharing our work with other communities as a proven way of working.”