Thales News Release

Half Of UK Consumers Don’t Believe Commercial Organisations Care About Their Privacy, Thales Research Finds

November 17, 2017

Businesses face far more than just fines for non-compliance with GDPR

Thales, a leader in critical information systems, cybersecurity and data security, announces the results of its research on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The report, based on research by Censuswide and sponsored by Thales, captures the perceptions of consumers and businesses on the preparedness levels of organizations in Europe and the United States for the May 2018 GDPR compliance deadline, as well as the new regulation’s business impact.

Half of UK consumers don’t believe commercial organisations care about their privacy, and many are prepared to take legal action against businesses that don’t comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). At the same time, businesses are concerned the new data privacy regulations will have a negative impact on their operations and international relations.

Intended to improve personal data protection and increase accountability for data breaches, GDPR is perhaps the most comprehensive data privacy standard to date. However, the regulation presents a significant challenge for organisations that process the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the organization is headquartered.

Consumer concerns

Half of UK consumers (50%) claimed not to trust anyone with protecting their personal information, and a similar number (49%) expressed a belief that businesses didn’t care about their digital privacy.

Perhaps as a result of recent high-profile breaches, only one in five (20%) of UK consumers claimed to trust financial institutions with their information, while just 23% said they trusted healthcare providers.

Retailers were only trusted by 6% of consumers in the UK, and perhaps with good reason. Thales eSecurity’s 2017 Data Threat Report revealed that two in five retailers globally have experienced a data breach in the past year, and that a third had suffered more than one.

More worryingly, 70% of UK consumers believe their information has been made available for sale online by cyber-criminals.

However with the EU GDPR’s implementation just six months away, three quarters of UK consumers (76%) believe increased regulation will improve the privacy of their online data.

Taking back control

While understandably a hot topic among businesses across the EU, the research revealed that more than a third (37%) of UK consumers had heard of the GDPR and that almost two thirds (57%) of these could explain it to some degree.

Aware of the GDPR, and what it means for the privacy of their information, consumers appear to be willing to take a stand against those organisations that fail to comply with the regulation, with three in five (58%) of UK respondents claiming they would at least consider legal action.

More than three quarters (79%) of respondents said they would consider taking their business to another company if the one they were dealing with did not comply with the regulation, while 69% suggested they might report a non-compliant organisation to the relevant industry watchdog. Three quarters of UK consumers (77%) suggested a failure to comply with the GDPR would negatively impact their perception of an organisation.

Business impact

The survey revealed a number of reasons why organisations may have more to fear from the GDPR than just consumer action and financial penalties:

  • 63% of UK-based organisations believe that implementing measures to become GDPR-compliant will increase the level of complexity and red tape within their business.
  • Almost half (49%) are concerned that the GDPR will hinder their organisation’s innovation to some degree.
  • One in five (21%) expect GDPR to have a negative impact on relationships with their international partners.
  • Interestingly, while around one in five UK businesses (22%) believe the GDPR will lead to fewer data breaches, almost a third (32%) are concerned that its implementation will actually result in an increased number of breaches.

Despite these concerns, more than a third of UK organisations (37%) remain optimistic that the GDPR will have no effect on their business operations whatsoever.

Jim DeLorenzo, Solutions Manager, GDPR, Thales says:

“As a result of recent and ongoing data breaches, digital privacy remains top of mind for consumers. With the deadline for enforcement of the GDPR fast approaching, law firms and compensation companies will begin to focus their efforts on fighting for consumer rights, and organisations could find themselves facing multiple legal challenges in addition to the hefty fines levied by the regulation, some of which will achieve national media attention. The GDPR is a change of legislation that well and truly puts the onus on organisations to get their houses in order, and the clock is ticking…”

To help make sure your business is fit for GDPR, Thales has compiled a series of useful resources, which you can find here.

Download your copy of the Thales report – “Protecting private personal data – why there’s more to the GDPR than just fines”.


Thales commissioned the survey among 2,000 consumers in the UK and Germany (1,000 in each region), and 1,500 C-level executives in the UK, US and Germany (500 in each region). The research was conducted online by polling company Censuswide, an international research organisation, in August 2017.