Home Economy It’s GDPR’s Birthday and More People Are Attending the Party

It’s GDPR’s Birthday and More People Are Attending the Party

Erica Kurowski
Erica Kurowski is the Managing Director of OnePulse

Happy birthday GDPR! It’s three years since GDPR – or more formally the General Data Protection Regulation – came into force to regulate how organisations work with the personal data of European internet users.

Its arrival, together with the California Consumer Privacy Act, marked a whole new headache for companies that collect personal data – and that is pretty much everyone.

A day after the GDPR came into force, it was reported that Google and Facebook received claims totaling $8.8 billion – not to forget the scandal of the private information of over millions of Facebook users being harvested by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

We know data is big business, and people, often unwittingly, have been making personal data trade-offs every time they pick up their mobile, click a like button, take a funny online quiz, and accept all settings so they can get to their shopping portal.

As we ‘celebrate’ GDPR’s third birthday, it felt like a good moment in time to check just how people’s awareness of their data security has changed.

Back in 2018, on the eve of GDPR launching, OnePulse spoke to a representative sample of 4,500 people across the UK and a staggering 77% had never heard of GDPR.

As the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, only 4% of those surveyed said they were aware of the data breaches and would boycott Facebook as a result.

Fast forward to 2021 and we are in a different world. The Social Dilemma has been a global hit and allegations of data-led voter manipulation in the US elections hit the headlines around the world.

To mark GDPR’s third birthday in 2021, OnePulse took a fresh survey of 1,000 representative UK nationals, and the results are starkly different, with 74% not only knowing about GDPR but also understanding its purpose.

A huge 83% of respondents of the same ‘Pulse’ had concerns about their data privacy, with the majority (55%) thinking that companies don’t do enough to protect their data.

Just two of the 1,000 people polled had never thought about their data privacy.

  • More than half those polled have deliberately changed settings on phones, social media accounts, and browsers to ensure their data isn’t shared. (54.57%)
  • The same number thought companies didn’t do enough to protect their data, although 30% were still unsure.
  • The NHS and healthcare services are the most trusted with people’s data, according to 46% of those polled.
  • Only 23% would trust government institutions, 8% social media platforms, and a paltry 4% for marketing and advertising companies.

What this means for businesses is clear – consumers are becoming more and more data and privacy savvy. Changes to cookies and app tracking are going to force businesses to get smarter with how they handle first-party consumer data.

For businesses and brands, it comes down to basic elements of trust. Perhaps not surprisingly on the back of the pandemic, NHS and healthcare services are most trusted with people’s data. However, that may soon change, with plans for patient data to be shared with third parties in the UK.

It has been three years since GDPR came into force.

Brands should note that marketing and advertising companies score the lowest trust ratings—behind government institutions.

Data will remain big business. Not only do organisations need to be aware of the rules and the regulations as well as trust issues, but they should keep their finger on the pulse of public opinion. There are more data savvy consumers out there than ever before.