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Fairness and Flexibility: making personal data work for everyone

28 July 2016

Fairness and flexibility [ 0.81 mb] puts forward new approaches and practical solutions for developing a fairer and more responsive data ecosystem.  It draws directly from newly commissioned qualitative research with consumers, looking at how they would like their data to be handled and managed, what currently worries them, and what could be done to build more trust.

Through our previous analysis and stakeholder work, we know there is broad agreement that major changes are needed in the way in which consumer data is handled.   Yet in much data policy or service development, the voices of consumers have not been heard - despite them being key participants in the digital process and the originators of much of the data within the system.  

This research addresses this insight gap, by showing what it feels like to be part of a fast moving digital world, and what needs to happen to increase trust and participation.  We explored what key principles such as trust, control and value mean to consumers when thinking about collection and use of their information online, and ask how they might be put into practice.  The main things people told us they wanted were:

  • A fairer and more balanced data environment, with more visibility and openness about data flows as a whole, and in particular with what information is collected about themselves.

  • A more responsive system that enables easy ways to make decisions on how their information is used, and to change their minds if their preferences change.

  • To feel safe and confident online: this was not just about data being secure from malicious attack, but having confidence that any companies who overstep the mark will be held to account.

If we want to help consumers maximise the benefits of the digital world, then we need to work harder to make these asks real. This will start with understanding what drives their concerns and how these could be overcome. These research insights are a valuable first step in developing sustainable solutions for a more responsive and fairer data system. You can find the full research report here [ 1.1 mb]