News Item

How concerned are Europeans about their personal data online?

everythingpossible ©, 2020
As governments discuss using technology to stop the spread of COVID-19, many Europeans are unwilling to share data about themselves with public and private bodies. These findings emerged from a EU Agency’s Fundamental Rights survey, carried out before the pandemic.

The Fundamental Rights Survey asked people about their views on sharing personal data as well as their awareness of EU data protection rules, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Overall, the findings on ‘Your rights matter: Data protection and privacy’ reveal that:

  • 41% do not want to share any personal data with private companies, almost double the number compared to public bodies;
  • the type of personal data influences people’s willingness to share. Only around 5% want to share their facial images or fingerprints with private companies;
  • 72% know the privacy settings on their smart phones. But 24% do not know how to check the privacy settings on their apps;
  • 55% fear criminals or fraudsters accessing their personal data. Around 30% worry about advertisers, businesses and foreign governments’ access to information without them knowing;
  • 33% do not read the terms and conditions when using online services compared with 22% who always read them;
  • 69% know about the GDPR. A similar number know their national data protection supervisory authority (71%);
  • only 51% are aware that they can access their personal data held by companies.

The EU’s data protection rules give users many safeguards. This includes Member States creating independent public authorities to protect users’ rights and to raise their rights awareness.

These rights include users’ consent to share their personal data and to inform users how organisations will use their data.

The findings also reveal some strong national differences. For example, in Belgium and Cyprus 47% of users do not read online terms and conditions, whereas in Estonia only 22% do not.

They draw on responses from 35,000 people across all EU Member States, North Macedonia and the United Kingdom. The survey ran from January to October 2019.