Privacy Matters

Pew Research released an interesting report earlier this year focusing on American attitudes towards privacy and information sharing in the digital world. Every day, people have to choose if they want to share their personal information with businesses and governments in exchange for access to a product or service. Pew found that willingness to share personal data depended greatly on the context. For many respondents, for example,  it was important that they could trust the organization before they were willing to share data with them. Even then, there were concerns over how secure their personal information would be in the hands of the business or government agency. Pew also found that Americans don’t trust the privacy and security of records in the digital age and are concerned about how long the data is collected, stored and accessed. The safety and security of personal data has become a high profile subject for Americans following major data breaches at companies like Anthem Health and AT&T.

Pew presented survey participants with different scenarios involving data sharing including examples focused on healthcare, insurance, and IoT. It was interesting to see the variability between the scenarios in how willing people were to share their data. Check out the full report for detailed results and the wide range of explanations that people provided.

Why the difference in opinion on data sharing across these scenarios? Pew found that a significant amount of people made the choice on whether to share data based upon three factors: the attractiveness of the trade off (sharing data in exchange for a product or service), if they trusted the organization with their data, and what might happen after the organization had their data. Willingness to share data greatly depended on if people thought that they could trust the organization with their information. Without trust, people were more likely to withhold data. A significant concern was that their data would be used for other purposes than the one initially intended. Many of the focus groups that Pew spoke to were concerned about the difficulty in understanding what information is being collected online, who is collecting the data, and how it is used.

A striking quote from one of the respondents was “The data isn’t really the problem. It’s who gets to see and use that data that creates problems”. At ForgeRock, this really hits home. Since our inception we’ve been focused on making sure organizations know “who’s who, what’s what, and who gets access to what” (our favorite quote from Scott McNealy). Today, with our ForgeRock Identity Platform and features such as User-Managed Access (UMA), we can help customers do this as well. With UMA, organizations can give customers control over who can access their personal data, for how long, for what purpose, and over what device. This can give them greater peace of mind that their data will not be misused and build a trusted, long-lasting relationship with customers.

The ForgeRock Identity Platform can help organizations to build digital trust with customers by building secure relationships between users, devices, and connected things. ForgeRock provides organizations with the tools needed to address the privacy and information sharing concerns expressed in the Pew report. For example, we’re currently working with Philips to secure patient data collected by their ecosystem of connected medical devices. Encouraging data sharing is important for organizations because it increases operational efficiency, serves as the foundation for many modern products and services, and provides great insight into customer preferences that is valuable for driving revenue. To do this, you need your customers to trust you.

Complementing Pew’s research on American attitudes towards privacy, we commissioned TechValidate to conduct a global data privacy survey of the extended ForgeRock community of IT professionals. Among the results that we discovered:

  • Only 9% of IT professionals agree that current data privacy and consent tools will be able to adapt to the needs of the emerging digital economy.
  • 96% of IT professionals agreed that data privacy is a C-level concern

For the complete report, download it here.

For more information about how the ForgeRock Identity Platform can help you to build trust with your users in the digital age, check out our website.

To learn more about User-Managed Access visit

Confirming Pew’s finding that trust is an important factor in facilitating data sharing, Accenture has identified “digital trust” as one of the key trends shaping the market in the coming years.

Blog: The Importance of Trust