Global crisis in trust over personal data

Published by: Derek Bell


A new landmark study shows that 7 in 10 people worldwide are concerned about sharing personal information, while two thirds of the global population do not like the current privacy practices of most data collectors.

 The survey of more than 25,000 people in 40 countries was designed to understand people’s attitudes to sharing personal data with businesses. The study was conducted by the Worldwide Independent Network for Market Research (WIN) and ESOMAR, the global trade association for the data and insight industry. RED C conducted the research data for Ireland.

The results show that across the world the vast majority of the public have significant concerns around sharing their personal data, while more than half of the global population have been the victims of data misuse.

I am concerned about sharing my personal information
Africa APAC Europe  


MENA LATAM North America
69% 75% 74% 77% 49% 68% 78%


The study showed a huge disconnect between businesses and the public in regard to data collection, its value and use. Globally more than two thirds of people understand that their personal information is valuable for data collectors, this is particularly pronounced in Europe (where 74% of people agree) and even stronger in Ireland where 76% of people agree, and Asia Pacific (75%).

However, less than half of people globally consider sharing personal information as vital and necessary in our connected world (Ireland 47%) – this rises to two thirds of people in the APAC region. Less than a third of people in Latin America, and the US consider sharing data vital. This suggests that many consumers consider data collection to be a one-sided deal; it’s valuable for businesses, but on the whole not necessary.

In North America, LATAM, Europe, and MENA fewer than half of all consumers are aware of what happens to their personal information after they have shared it with a data collector.  In Ireland, just 48% of people suggested that they were aware of what happens to their data.

What is more, the majority of the public across every region do not like the current privacy practices of data collectors – as many as 7 out of 10 people in Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America.   In Ireland, this rises to 73% who do not like the current privacy practices of data collectors.

I do not like the current privacy practices of most data collectors
Africa APAC Europe Ireland MENA LATAM North America
57% 72% 71% 73% 53% 51% 72%


This collapse in trust between the public and companies when it comes to data collection most likely has its roots in widespread experience of data misuse (spam, phishing, email hacks, leaked personal details or bank account/credit card hacks). More than half of the world’s population has been a victim of data misuse. In Europe this is more than two thirds, in LATAM and Africa around three in five people have been victims, while in North America 80% of the population has been the victim of some kind of data misuse.

In Ireland, an astonishing 82% of the population claim to have experienced some form of spamming, phishing, hacking or leaks.  This includes 67% who claim to have been spammed by email from companies they haven’t given details to, 43% having experienced phishing (fraudulent email s requesting personal information), 16% have had their email hacked, 10% have had personal details leaked and 9% having their bank account or credit card hacked/ used fraudulently.

Finn Raben Director General of ESOMAR commented on the study “Data is at the cornerstone of good decision making in both businesses and governments, even more so in a pandemic. Although this study paints a worrying picture for the future of data collection, we know that people’s views about sharing their data really change when they trust the organisation collecting it. And you can build trust; consumers respond well to companies that give them control over their data and are clear and transparent.”

Vilma Scarpino WIN President commented on the study “The digitalisation of our lives grows exponentially in the current context. Although people recognize the value of technology, they are concerned about sharing their personal information and the level of trust among different players in this market is low. Despite the different levels of concern according to age or education that this global survey shows, interesting differences can be analyzed in greater depth in the results by country.”

The Irish data report is attached below.

WIN World Survey – Technology – Irish Summary Results