Two thirds of Irish adults fear data is being sold without consent

New research highlights privacy concerns

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock


More than two thirds of Irish adults fear their data is being sold off without their knowledge, and the majority would reconsider buying a product if it requested too much personal information, a new survey has found.

The study, which was carried out by IT Tralee and Fexco, found 65 per cent were concerned that their right to privacy is being compromised through the use of their personal data by companies.

But despite this, there was a disconnect between people’s fears and their knowledge of the rules governing data collection. Only one fifth were aware of what happened to the personal data collected by companies, and only 22 per cent knew how long companies could hold on to it.

There was a significant level of distrust for authority, with around half saying they believe the government holds too much of their personal data, and almost 20 per cent believing the same of their employer. Some 88 per cent said they thought companies were collecting too much data, and 81 per cent said they may not buy a product or service if the data it requested felt invasive.

“It is clear from the research launched today that companies need to become more adept and efficient in how they collect and store data, ensuring they gather only what is required to maintain the customer relationship and that it is securely stored,” said Ruth McCarthy, CEO of Fexco Corporate Payments. “It is worth consumers bearing in mind that when a service is offered for free in exchange for provision of personal data, then clearly someone in the value chain is finding a way of monetising that data.”


However, people will share personal data where they see a benefit, such as availing of better, more tailored overall healthcare or education services.

Only 32 per cent said they would provide it to retailers, with 20 per cent wiling to hand over personal data to marketers and 13 per cent willing to provide it to gaming outlets.

“While the research reveals that data can be perceived as a negative by consumers, it is crucial to present the positive case for data and how it can be used to establish cause, protect consumers’ information and predict future trends,” said Breda O’Dwyer, Senior Lecturer and MTU Project Lead for Research and Engagement at Institute of Technology Tralee.

The research, which surveyed 1,017 adults online in December 2018, was published to coincide with the launch of the 2019 Cantillon Conference, which will take place on March 28th in the Rose Hotel, Tralee, Co Kerry. The annual event examines and explores key technology-related topics. This year’s event will look at how raw data generated from online interactions can be used to inform decisions.