About a third of adults in the United Kingdom say that they felt more cautious knowing that a particular website is tracking their online activity, and for some, it was a reason to feel more nervous.
Consumer trustAround six in ten consumers in the United Kingdom interested in checkout-free shopping would not mind sharing personal and demographic information with online companies. Meanwhile, the type of data that they were strictly unwilling to share are financial, health, and location information. Most users preferred brands or services that never collected and used their personal information over those that did track them.
The majority of surveyed UK consumers are convinced that companies are responsible for protecting their online data, although 14 percent of respondents think users have responsibilities in this case too. In fact, before using a service provided by a specific company, many users research the company’s capability and reputation of handling the personal data of individuals. The most common way to research this was by reading customer reviews and carefully reviewing company policies.
Despite a third of UK consumers being slightly concerned about stores tracking their personal information, almost five in ten consumers were comfortable installing checkout-free store apps, which usually require much sensitive information, such as financial data.
Online harassmentOne of the ways someone’s online privacy is violated is through online harassment. The possibility of staying anonymous has led to certain behaviors from users that would not possibly happen if they had a recognizable online identity. Besides, the lack of necessary safety filters on online platforms has created an environment with potential for online abuse. More than half of victims of online abuse said they experienced cyberbullying, while 33 percent were victims of cyber stalking. Furthermore, women were more likely to encounter online harassment than men.
Over six in ten UK victims of online abuse said they were abused by strangers, while around three in ten stated encountering online abuse by friends or acquaintances. For 40 percent of victims, cyberstalking has lasted more than two years. Meanwhile, the response they received from internet companies after reporting online abuse was dissatisfying or very dissatisfying.
What do UK online users do for safer online experiences?In order to remain safe in an online setting, UK internet users can implement specific tools or techniques, such as using a virtual private network (VPN), private browsing, or dismissing cookies on websites. However, there seems to be a discrepancy when it comes to users’ preferences regarding data privacy and the effort they put into remaining safe online. A February 2023 study showed that rejecting cookies was the most frequently used privacy measure for users in the United Kingdom, performed daily by over 18 percent of the respondents. The usage of VPN was less popular, with around 12 percent of respondents using this option every day and over 35 percent stating they had never heard of it. A further 12 percent used incognito mode or private browsing daily. When asked about the motivation for using private browsing methods, almost six in ten users said they wanted to protect their personal information from scammers.
Privacy regulations in the UKSince the implementation of the EU- and EEA-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, its awareness level has increased significantly among the European population, as well as in the UK. During the time of the enactment, the largest fine issued by the UK data protection authority was the 22.05 million euro fine to British Airways in October 2020.
In March 2023, the United Kingdom (UK) introduced the Data Protection & Digital Information (No.2) Bill, a renewed version of the Data Protection & Digital Information Bill that was introduced in June 2022. This is supposed to be the regulation for companies operating in the United Kingdom (UK) exclusively, with no plans to expand to the EU and EEA. International companies operating in the UK and EU areas will still need to comply with GDPR. The bill will likely go through some discussions before making it to Parliament, which might take up to 12 months.