Alex Williams  —

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Can you rely on government to protect your sensitive data online? We asked 2000 UK citizens.

You might not be aware of how much information about yourself exists online. Whether you submitted it willingly through account creation or unwillingly by visiting malicious websites - it's documented.

In 2018, the UK Data Protection Act was brought to life (after much chagrin) and most people cheered for it as it made them feel safer. However, there were those who didn't like government having a tighter grip on what they do online. Even if you participate only in perfectly legal and normal activities, you might not want the Big Brother to know what you're doing.

In light of recent events, we were interested in seeing how UK residents feel towards the current data protection laws. Should they be more strict or does the government already know too much? Let's see.


How UK Citizens Feel About Government Protecting Their Online Privacy
(2020 Survey Results)

In our task to find out how UK citizens feel towards government protecting their online privacy, we used Google's survey tool. Over 2000 participants answered our questions and we made sure to have respondents from various age groups, genders, and education levels - all of them born and living in the UK.

online privacy survey uk details

Our criteria for selecting participants was the following:

  • Of legal voting age
  • UK Residents (by birth)
  • Equal number of male and female respondents

Has Government Earned Our Trust?

You might find it surprising that the majority of UK citizens doesn't trust the government at all to protect their data. While some distrust is to be expected, the numbers were heavily in favor of the government not being able to properly do its job.

trust in the UK government online privacy

  • 49% of respondents don't trust the UK government to protect their privacy
  • 33.4% are neither here nor there
  • 17.6% UK residents do trust the government to protect their data

US vs. UK Government: Who Can Protect You Better?

Our second question was aimed at finding out whether UK citizens thought they'd be safer if they were living in the US - protected by US privacy laws.

uk vs us government protecting online privacy

Not surprisngly, a huge majority of those asked believe they are safer under UK privacy laws. A small number of participants had more faith in the United States, while no respondents were without an opinion.

  • 88.8% of UK citizens don't think US privacy laws are better
  • 11.2% would place their bets on United States

Should Government Even Be Responsible for Privacy?

Let's take a look at this from a different perspective. Should online privacy even be handled by the government?

should government protect digital rights

Most of our respondents said it actually is the job of our government to protect our online privacy. A minority believed there should be another institution handling this, while no participants believed an individual should be responsible for what happens to their private data saved online.

  • 72.7% of participants think the government should keep protecting them
  • 27.3% of those asked don't want the government to have this job
  • No respondents think individuals should be responsible

UK Government Monitoring Citizen Online Activity

When asked whether the government should be given the power to monitor what UK citizens do online, the results were to be expected.

Two thirds of those asked think the government should be able to monitor online activity if there's reasonable cause. On the other hand, no participants believe the UK government should be able to monitor what they do at all times.

should UK government monitor online activity

 

  • 63.7% of UK citizens think that, if there's cause, government should be able to monitor online activity
  • 36.3% of our participants think the data should never be monitored
  • No participants thought our data should be up for inspection at all times

Would YOU Be Okay With Being Monitored?

Finally, we asked our participants whether they would give up their own privacy rights to ensure a higher level of protection for their country.

The majority said they'd be willing to 'somewhat' give up their online freedom. A quarter of respondents claim they'd give in completely while no participants said they wouldn't give be okay with being monitored if it ensured the safety of the UK.

should Uk government monitor you for overall protection

  • 64.1% of participants would be somewhat okay with being monitored for increased safety
  • 24.4% of participants would be okay with being monitored at all times to protect the country
  • 11.5% wouldn't allow themselves to be monitored online for the safety of the UK

Don't Like the Privacy Laws? Protect Yourself

Most UK citizens that participated in our survey don't think the government laws are as good as they could be. If you agree with them, there is a number of simple security measures you can set up to make sure no one steals your data. Here are just a few:

  • Don't visit sites without a secure connection estabilished (HTTPS instead of HTTP)
  • Use a powerful VPN to browse the web as it will hide sensitive information, including your current location
  • Don't ignore the warnings given by your anti-virus software or Windows Defender
  • Avoid clicking on links that seem malicious or offer free prizes/rewards
  • Make sure you know who you're talking to online - identity theft is common these days
  • Abstain from signing up to shady websites and services using your personal data - it's not worth it

Cybercriminals profit greatly from selling your data. While the government does a fairly good job at making sure this doesn't happen, a lot of it is also up to you. If you don't read the terms of service carefully or give away your data willingly to someone you don't trust, you basically agreed to letting them sell the information at their own volition.

Take care of your data properly and you won't even need any laws to protect your privacy. 

If you'd like to contribute to this article with a related survey or any other verified piece of research, please contact us.