As news of the massive Yahoo data security breach hits the headlines, two new pieces of research show that consumers are deeply worried about how their data is used by businesses.
The latest research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) reveals that 92% of consumers "do not fully understand" where and how businesses use their personal information and data; and one third (31%) say they have "no idea" how their personal data is used.
The CIM study, Whose data is it anyway?, surveyed more than 2,500 consumers and marketers. More than half of all consumers (57%) said they do not trust an organisation or business to use their data responsibly - the biggest issue being that their information may be passed onto others without consent (40%).
The CIM research found that 51% of consumers have received communications from organisations they feel have misused their data. Most consumers (70%) still do not see the benefit of sharing their personal data at all.
Chris Daly, CIM chief executive, said: "Our report shows that people are nervous about sharing personal data - fears of data breaches and misuse has them on high alert. However, two-thirds (67%) of customers actually say they would share more personal information if organisations were more open about how they will use it."
Businesses need to improve their data handling processes, he said. "Marketers need to brush up on the rules, demonstrate clearly the value-add personal data offers in delivering a more personalised experience and ultimately reduce the fear by being open throughout the process."
Meanwhile, research conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) reveals that data handling is the single biggest issue that consumer worry about when making decisions on who to do business with.
Its poll of 2,000 UK adults found that 44% are concerned about how businesses handle sensitive client data. Aggressive tax avoidance was the second most important issue to the public, cited by 42% of respondents.
Rob Alder, AAT head of business development, said: "All businesses are reliant on their good reputation in order to survive and thrive, and this research shows the things businesses need to do to strengthen their reputation."