Alex Williams
Alex Williams  —

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People underestimate how important it is to properly protect your data and stay safe online; a new survey explores how do UK citizens feel about a number of issues related to online privacy.

While there are more essential things in life, online privacy should be a priority compared to having fun on the internet, downloading cat videos, and listening to unreleased songs from your favorite artist.

In 2019, a real estate insurance giant, First American suffered a major data breach where personal data of more than 885 million people had their financial records exposed (lost).

Other hacks and data breaches of lesser scope happen on a daily basis. Thus, it's natural for one to be concerned about the safety of their private data. Let's take a look at how UK citizens feel about the issue at hand.

How UK Citizens Feel About Online Privacy

To try and understand how UK citizens feel about various matters regarding online privacy, we used Google. With their survey system, we managed to gather answers from 2000 participants of various education levels on a few specific data points with research spanning for 10 weeks.

uk online privacy survey details

Here was our criteria for picking the participants:

  • Male & Female
  • 18+ years old
  • Google account users
  • Born and living in the UK

Strength of UK Privacy Laws

Sadly, a majority of UK citizens claim they do not know anything about online privacy laws. A minority thinks the laws are good enough while no participants believed the laws are bad.

strength of UK privacy laws

While the general lack of knowledge was to be expected, we found it shocking that none of those surveyed thought the laws are bad.

  • 87% participants don't know what the laws are
  • 13% of participants believe privacy laws are right
  • No participants thought the laws are weak

Companies Protecting Data

When it comes to companies protecting citizens private data, the results are one-sided one more time. About half of the people believe in corporations handling their personal information. On the other hand, the second half says they are 'somewhat confident'. 

UK companies protecting private client data

Again, none of our respondents expressed distrust in major corporations.

  • 51.6% of UK citizens are very confident in companies protecting their data
  • 48.4% are somewhat confident
  • 0% are not confident at all

UK Citizens (Growing) Privacy Concerns

Now, when it comes to privacy concerns, it's safe to say that the level of awareness has been raised compared to previous years. Most respondents were more concerned about online privacy and none were less concerned.

UK citizens concern about online privacy

  • 52.2% of respondents were more concerned about online privacy
  • 47.8% of respondents expressed the same amount of concern
  • 0% of respondents were less concerned.

If you are not afraid only of losing your private data but also about your online business being hijacked, make sure to set up a quality web hosting with trusted encryption methods.

Major Threats to Online Privacy

Out of all the data points we focused on, this is the one we found most shocking. Only a small amount of respondents found companies collecting their personal information to be the biggest threat to their online privacy. A huge majority placed their bets on hackers and cyber criminals.

UK threats to online privacy

Also, none of the respondents expressed concern over foreign government surveilance.

  • 95.2% of UK citizens believe hackers and cyber criminals are the biggest threat to their privacy
  • 4.8% are most afraid of companies collecting their private information
  • 0% is concerned about foreign government surveilance

Privacy Over Convenience

Finally, the survey asked how willing would UK citizens be to give up more of their privacy for increased convenience. The results here were pretty balanced, as you can see below:

Uk citizens opinion privacy over convenience

The majority said they wouldn't give up their privacy, while a huge number of those asked said they don't know/care. A small number replied saying they prefer more convenience.

  • 48.4% of respondents value privacy over convenience
  • 43% don't know
  • 8.6% of those asked value convenience over privacy

Protecting Your Privacy Online

While it seems UK citizens aren't as aware about growing privacy concerns as they should be, you can do better. Here are some things you could do right now to decrease your chances of becoming a victim of cyber criminals and non-trustworthy companies.

  • Avoid accessing any important accounts while being connected to a public WiFi
  • Sign up for a quality VPN service and use it at all times while browsing the web
  • Ideally, store your data on a hard drive only you can access; otherwise use trusted cloud storage services only
  • Do not create accounts on websites that are run by companies that haven't earned your trust
  • If you're a website owner, switch from HTTP to HTTPS to protect your and your audience's privacy
  • Trust in Windows Defender and your anti-virus software; do not ignore warnings because you really really want to open that file you just downloaded from an extremely shady source

In the (near) future, we are bound to rely on the internet even more to handle our essential activities. Money transfers, data storage, locations, and private messages are just the beginning. While this has many positive sides and we have a good reason to do so, it also comes with the danger of losing something precious.

To keep enjoying all the benefits digitalization has to offer, make sure to abide by privacy rules and advice that security experts offer. 

If you have additional data and information you'd like us to contribute to this study, don't hesitate to contact us.