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On GDPR day, survey reveals most people don't understand their rights surrounding data

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Rachel NeamanRachel NeamanPeople 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.

And only one percent of respondents said they were happy for their data to be sold for profit.

The institute conducted a survey of people living within its locality, as the first stage of its Your Data, Your Rights project.

Over 160 local people completed the online survey in the run-up to the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation coming into force.

Nearly half of all respondents (48 percent) did not know the accepted definition of ‘personal data’, as defined by the Information Commissioner’s Office, when given a choice of four options.

Additionally, only 18 percent of people said they knew a lot about the collection of their data, and 13 percent 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 percent) said they care a lot about how organisations might use their data. In addition, 77 percent of respondents said they wanted full control over their data.

Respondents – who came from Box, Colerne, Corsham, Lacock and Neston – were also very supportive of their data being used for public good and to improve local services, as well as for their own benefit.

Seventy five percent 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 one percent of respondents said they would be happy for their data to be sold for profit.

Corsham Institute's CEO Rachel Neaman 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.”

For more information about the Your Data Your Rights project, visit www.corshaminstitute.org/ydyr