New Survey Finds Deep Consumer Anxiety over Data Privacy and Security

Compliance / Privacy
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A new survey shows that 78 percent of U.S. respondents say a company's ability to keep their data private is "extremely important" and only 20 percent "completely trust" organizations they interact with to maintain the privacy of their data.

The poll underscores the public's view of the obligation that organizations have to handle data responsibly and protect it from hackers.

The online survey of 10,000 consumers, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of IBM, found that:

  • 75 percent will not buy a product from a company - no matter how great the products are - if they don't trust the company to protect their data;
  • 73 percent think businesses are focused on profits over addressing consumers' security needs;
  • 73 percent indicated it is extremely important that companies quickly take proper actions to stop a data breach; and
  • 60 percent are more concerned about cybersecurity than a potential war.

"Increasingly, we are seeing companies around the world trying to balance providing personalized services to consumers, while maintaining privacy," said John Kelly, IBM Senior Vice President, Cognitive Solutions. "Getting this right requires companies working closely with each other and, importantly, with governments, to ensure the right protections are in place."

IBM has been a vocal supporter of strong data privacy and security practices for decades. Recent actions include:

  • In 2014, IBM published an open letter to customers regarding government access to data;
  • In 2015, IBM supported the U.S. Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which provides protections from liability for organizations that share information on cyberattacks;
  • In 2015, IBM shared its 800TB collection of information on security threats to help organizations collaborate faster and more effectively to battle cybercrime;
  • In October 2017, IBM issued Data Responsibility @IBM to publish details and obligations about how the company handles clients' data;
  • In 2017, IBM signed the EU Data Protection Code of Conduct for Cloud Service Providers, guaranteeing protection over and above the minimum legal requirement for protection of data in the cloud.

For more information on IBM's data responsibility practices, visit:

Harris Poll Survey Methodology:

Global Overview:
This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of IBM between March 20-26th, 2018, among 8,461 adults ages 18+ across 7 countries: the US (n=2126), UK (n=1032), Germany (n=1020), Brazil (n=1143), China (n=1101), India (1013), and United Arab Emirates (n=1026).  This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

US Expanded Look:
A small set of questions were added to the global design in the US only. This research was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of IBM from March 27-29, 2018 among 2,039 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

A copy of the complete finding can be downloaded at:

The IBM business model is built to support two principal goals: helping clients succeed in delivering business value by becoming more innovative, efficient and competitive through the use of business insight and information technology (IT) solutions; and, providing long-term value to shareholders. The business model has been developed over time through strategic investments in capabilities and technologies that have the best long-term growth and profitability prospects based on the value they deliver to clients. The company's strategy is to focus on the high-growth, high-value segments of the IT industry. The company's global capabilities include services, software, hardware, fundamental research and financing. The broad mix of businesses and capabilities are combined to provide business insight and solutions for the company's clients.

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