More than 80 percent of the population in Scotland has lost confidence in the U.K. government’s ability to look after personal data; this is the stark finding of the first comprehensive survey of its kind into the psychological impact of recent public sector information losses.

The survey, commissioned by software company Objective Corporation and conducted by YouGov, has identified a complete breakdown in trust and soaring concerns over fraud and identity theft.

Of the sample, 28 percent are very worried that the loss of personal files and important data such as national insurance information, tax details and banking records would directly impact them. A further 20 percent feel that such losses would impact them to a certain extent, while 22 percent of the sample felt that this could impact them but would wait for a response from the government itself before deciding.

Key findings:

  • 29 percent of the sample have completely lost faith in the U.K. government’s ability to manage data; 34 percent think that the way in which the government was looking after personal data should be improving by now, particularly in light of the spate of recent breaches; and a further 22 percent are not confident that the government are protecting their data and consequently did not feel secure at all
  • When asked if the government was completely trustworthy in handling personal data, only 2 percent of the sample actually trust the government completely
  • 35 percent of the sample believe that there is a real risk to them personally, as a result of missing personal information being used by fraudsters
  • Half the sample think that the risk lies in the criminal fraternity who might try to use their identity
  • Just 21 percent believe that the data losses so far have been just that – lost and not stolen
  • On the positive, 22 percent consider that the U.K. government will try and safeguard against future data losses.

The report points out that to deliver public services effectively and efficiently, information needs to be shared between different parts of government, and that the public has a right to expect the information that they provide to be held securely and used appropriately.

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