Publication - Statistics

Scottish Social Attitudes 2019: data trust

Published: 3 Nov 2020

Findings of the Scottish Social Attitudes 2019 covering level of trust in public service organisations and private companies to use personal data only for acceptable purposes.

Scottish Social Attitudes 2019: data trust
Data Trust

Data Trust

The Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) Survey 2019 asked participants questions about their views on how public service organisations and private companies use personal data:

"How much do you trust public service organisations to use your personal data only for acceptable purposes?"

"And how much do you trust private companies to use your personal data only for acceptable purposes?"

In order to avoid findings being unduly affected by the order in which these questions were asked, half the sample were asked these questions in the reverse order.

Trust in public service organisations and private companies to use personal data for acceptable purposes only

Figure 1 below shows that a greater amount of trust was shown for public service organisations than for private companies regarding the way in which they used personal data.

  • 58% of adults trusted public service organisations 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot', compared with 15% for private companies.
  • 17% trusted public service organisations 'not very much' or 'not at all', compared with 59% for private companies.

While figures for private companies have not changed significantly since 2017, the proportion who trusted public service organisations 'not very much' or 'not at all' has fallen significantly, from 23% in 2017 to 17% in 2019. The corresponding increase in the proportion who trusted public service organisations 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' was not statistically significant.

Figure 1: How much do you trust public service organisations and private companies to use your personal data only for acceptable purposes? (2017 and 2019, %)
image description above

Percentages may not sum to exactly 100, due to rounding.
Base: all respondents – 2017 (1,234); 2019 (1,022)

Variations in attitudes between subgroups

Levels of trust in public service organisations and private companies to use personal data only for acceptable purposes varied between subgroups of the population. The main differences between subgroups in the proportion who said they had either 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' of trust are reported below. These differences are all statistically significant.[1]

Trust in public service organisations varied across subgroups as follows:

  • Age – Trust in public services to use data for acceptable purposes only decreased with increasing age – 72% of 16 to 24 year olds said they had either 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' of trust, falling to 50% of those aged 65 and over.
  • Education – Those with higher educational qualifications tended to have more trust than those with lower or no formal qualifications – 61% of those educated to degree-level and 68% with Highers or equivalent said they had 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' of trust, compared with 50% of those with Standard Grade or equivalent level and 51% of those with no formal qualifications.
  • Economic activity – Those in full-time education, employment or looking for work tended to have more trust in public sector organisations than those who were retired or otherwise economically inactive – 71% of those in full-time education or training, 61% of those in employment or waiting to take up employment, and 68% of those unemployed and looking for work had 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' of trust, compared with 51% of those who were retired and 46% of those who were otherwise economically inactive.

There was less variation between subgroups with respect to trust in private companies. This varied only according to where people's views lay on the political spectrum:[2]

  • Political spectrum – Those who were characterised as on the right or in the centre of the political spectrum were more likely than those on the left to report 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' of trust in private companies to use data only for acceptable purposes – 31% of those on the right and 25% of those in the centre reported 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' of trust, compared with 10% of those on the left.

Contact

Email: statistics.enquiries@gov.scot