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US Election Intensifies UK Internet Users' Concerns About Digital Privacy

Nearly three-quarters question what UK will do to protect their data from US misuse

January 24, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

The historically close ties between intelligence agencies in the US and UK is leading UK internet users to worry about US government access to their personal data under a Trump administration.

Types of Companies/Organizations that UK Internet Users Trust with Their Personal Information, Oct 2016 (% of respondents)

YouGov polling of adult UK internet users carried out last week by UK-based privacy rights watchdog Privacy International found that 54% of respondents did not trust the Trump administration to use US surveillance powers only for legitimate reasons, and 73% of respondents questioned what the UK government planned to do to protect their personal data from misuse by the new US administration.

Those concerns are consistent with pessimism about government handling of personal data among UK internet users in general. October 2016 polling by Innofact for management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, for instance, found that 68% of UK respondents didn't trust the UK government to protect their privacy, compared to just 6% who fully did. That study saw respondents most trustful of banks and healthcare providers or insurers.

In addition to the Trump election, the months since the Oliver Wyman study saw the UK's Investigatory Powers Act 2016 become law. Commonly known as the "snooper's charter," it expands government power to collect web browsing data and share it more widely than previously allowed, including, conceivably, with US intelligence services. Last month, the European Court of Justice ruled that "general and indiscriminate" data retention directives like those in the IPA contravene EU law.

—Cliff Annicelli

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