Global consumers worry that small privacy invasions may lead to a loss of civil rights, finds EIU survey

  • 92% of global consumers say they want to control what personal information is automatically collected
  • 74% of global consumers are concerned that small privacy invasions may eventually lead to a loss of civil rights
  • 57% say the “right to be forgotten” is among the most important consumer rights regarding third-party use of personal information
  • 92% want to increase punishments for companies that violate consumers’ privacy

A new report released today by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that consumers around the world perceive wide ranging risks in how their personal information is collected and shared with third parties. They want greater transparency and control, as well as commitments from government and industry to protect privacy.

What the Internet of Things means for consumer privacy, sponsored by ForgeRock, is an EIU research programme that explores the concerns and priorities of global consumers stemming from the Internet of Things (IoT). It is based on a survey of 1,629 consumers from eight countries around the world.

Large shares of the consumers surveyed indicate a host of concerns related to the collection and transmission of their personal information. These range from identity theft to the creation of consumer behaviour profiles, and 74% worry that small privacy invasions may eventually lead to a loss of civil rights. With regard to the automatic collection of data, 92% say they want control over what information is gathered, and a similar share wants to be informed at the point of sale of the data collection capabilities of devices. 

The Economist on protecting personal information


Though companies around the world are scrambling to comply, consumers globally want the types of data privacy rights included in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will take effect in May 2018. Of these, 57% of the consumers surveyed report the right to erase their information (“the right to be forgotten”) as most important—this is the most often cited response.

The data and complementary interviews suggest a few strategies that will help companies build consumer trust. These include collaboration with governments to uphold privacy standards and industry-led commitments to maintain customer privacy. Rigorous government enforcement of standards is key, and 92% of consumers surveyed call for increasing punishments for companies that violate privacy norms.

Veronica Lara, editor of the report, says:

“Consumers have cause for concern, as the ubiquity of interconnected sensors through the IoT adds layers of risk that people can’t easily understand. Companies’ lack of transparency and the absence of consumer control over data exacerbate perceptions of privacy and security threats. This looks to change, however, as consumers demand stronger safeguards and as the influence of GDPR spreads beyond the EU.”

Press enquiries:

Ross Jenkinson, Global Head of Marketing, Thought Leadership
+44 (0) 207 576 8047
[email protected]

Veronica Lara, Senior Editor, Thought Leadership
+212 698-9739
[email protected]

Notes to editors

What the Internet of Things means for consumer privacy is based on a global survey of consumers The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted in October 2017. The research programme, sponsored by ForgeRock, explores the privacy concerns and priorities of global consumers stemming from the IoT. The survey sample consisted of 1,629 consumers in the following countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US. The sample falls into six age ranging from 16 to over 65, and is divided evenly among men and women.

The report and other content is available to download here.   

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist newspaper. The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. More information can be found at or

About ForgeRock

ForgeRock® is a Digital Identity Management company that offers solutions to help organizations interact securely with customers, employees, devices, and things. Organizations adopt the ForgeRock Identity Platform™ as their digital identity system of record to monetize customer relationships, address stringent regulations for privacy and consent (GDPR, HIPAA, FCC privacy, etc.), and leverage the internet of things. ForgeRock serves hundreds of brands, including Morningstar, Vodafone, GEICO, TomTom, and Pearson, as well as governments such as Norway, New Zealand, and Belgium, among many others. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, ForgeRock has offices in Austin, London, Bristol, Grenoble, Munich, Paris, Oslo, Singapore, Sydney and Vancouver, Washington. ForgeRock is privately held, backed by leading global venture capital firms Accel Partners, Foundation Capital, Meritech Capital and KKR. For more information and free downloads, visit