Less than one in five people are confident that websites will treat personal information properly, according to a new survey by the UK information commissioner.
Protecting personal information was the top concern for the general public, the report found. The poll was carried out by research firm SMSR on 1,000 people in the UK and found this was only ranked behind crime prevention and improving education standards.
Unprompted, over half (52 percent) of the respondents are concerned that their personal details may be passed on to unknown organizations. When prompted, over 80 percent expressed concerns about the use, transfer and security of personal information.
"It may be surprising to some, but it is very significant that people are so concerned about how their personal information is handled," said Information Commissioner Richard Thomas. "No doubt they are increasingly aware of the dangers of identity theft and the serious consequences if their health, financial and other personal records fall into the wrong hands or are otherwise misused."
Thomas said that people could "do a lot to protect their own information."
"By only giving it out if they are sure that a request is genuine and if they know what their information will be used for, people can also take active steps, such as shredding personal documents like bank and credit card statements, bills and checking statements to ensure that they recognize all the transactions," said Thomas.
Details of the report can be found on the Information Commissioner's website, www.ico.gov.uk.