Internet trust evaporating - survey

Password. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Password. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – An overwhelming percentage of people believe that their information is not private and want new rules about how companies and governments can use online data.

According to a global survey commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (Cigi), 83% believe new rules are required to compel governments and companies to handle data more responsibly.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos, found that 85% believe that governments should co-operate to make the internet more safe and secure.

“Internet users are expressing a clear lack of trust in the current set of rules and, more importantly, in the actors that oversee the sharing and use of personal data online,” said Fen Hampson, director of Cigi’s Global Security and Politics Programme and co-director of the Global Commission on Internet Governance.

Germany recently ordered search giant Google to limit the amount of data it collects from citizens and the company also implemented changes in the face of a European court-ordered “right to be forgotten”.

SA legislation

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The survey, out on Monday found that 57% of people were more concerned about their online privacy than in 2015, and just 38% trust that their internet activities were not being monitored.

“There is an overwhelming consensus among respondents that the internet is everyone’s issue, and that no single actor or institution is absolved of responsibility or can be trusted more than others in the pursuit of its effective governance,” said Hampson.

In SA, legislation like the Protection of Personal Information Act obligates companies to not sharing personal data of “data subjects” such as addresses and IDs with third parties without expressed permission.

READ: Legislation should control SA spam levels

"The Protection of Personal Information Act (Popi), gives effect to a constitutional right to privacy and the unauthorised access to information regarding the educational, medical, financial, criminal or employment history of an individual as well as their personal details such as ID numbers, contact details and physical addresses is restricted by the Act," said Candice Sutherland, business development consultant at SHA Specialist Underwriters.

The survey found that about a third of citizens feel that their own governments (30%) and companies (31%) are doing enough to keep personal data private.

Cigi said that people have changed their online behaviour because of the lack of trust. About 55% no longer open emails from unknown addresses and 23% do fewer financial transactions online.

“The survey data tells us that global citizens are increasingly uneasy and deeply concerned about the fact that no clear rules currently exist to hold actors such as national governments or private companies to account in the use and sharing of personal data online,” said Ipsos Global Affairs chief executive Darrell Bricker.

The survey was conducted among 24 143 people in SA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the US.

What is your main concern regarding personal data falling into the wrong hands? Let us know

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