E-commerce is becoming mainstream in Europe, according to this study© Pierre Amerlynck, 2012 (kipcurry - stock.xchng)
JRC's in-depth analysis of the Eurobarometer on data protection and digital identity in Europe
A new JRC report presents a detailed analysis of the largest ever survey about EU citizens' behaviours, attitudes and regulatory preferences concerning personal data and electronic identity, on the Internet and in their daily lives (Special Eurobarometer 359).
The study finds that personal data disclosure is prevalent in the European society, largely due to the Internet. More than one third of all Europeans use social networks and almost four out of ten shop online. In these contexts, people disclose vast amounts of personal information and manage a large and growing number of electronic identities.
Europeans believe that if they want to benefit from the Internet's full potential they have to disclose their data (biographical, social, financial or medical). Three in four Europeans see increased disclosure of personal information as a natural part of modern life, largely inevitable. Social networks users are likely to disclose their name (79%) and photos (51%), but only a minority consider this as personal information.
On the Internet, 43% of respondents state that they have been asked for more personal information than necessary in order to obtain access to or use an online service. Just over a quarter of social networks users (26%) and even fewer online shoppers (18%) feel in complete control over the data they have disclosed. With small differences in socio-economic traits and country, people consider themselves and companies as being responsible for the protection of their data, rather than policymakers although they trust public institutions more than Internet companies to protect the data they are entrusted with. But people disregard risks in e-commerce: the more people carry out Internet activities the more likely they are to transact online, even though the perception of risk increases.
Despite a relaxed attitude regarding disclosure, many people refrain from accessing eServices where authentication is required. Regarding e-commerce, the survey discloses that although it is becoming mainstream in Europe, virtually nobody shops cross-border in EU without shopping first in their own country. Europeans use business-issued rather than public-issued credentials for Internet transactions, especially e-commerce; although many countries issue credentials, these are seldom directly usable online for commercial purposes. People who trust companies less are less likely to engage in a range of Internet activities, including e-commerce.
When it comes to protecting one's identity, Europeans strongly underwrite the key principles of the EU data protection legislation: being informed when their personal data is lost or stolen; and to be able to delete/edit their data whenever they want. But people tend to understand better how to protect their identity in the offline world than when in the online world. 62% of the Europeans give the minimum required information, but far fewer protect their online identity otherwise (only 40% use anti-spam and anti-spy software).
The report flags the need for technical systems that ensure easy, trusted, user-centred control on users’ digital identity. It argues that enhancing user confidence and fostering trust in data controllers may remove part of the burden from regulators’ shoulders. It argues that public institutions should address issues of trust and availability of credentials to promote update of e-services.
The European Commission proposed on 4 June new rules to enable cross-border electronic signatures and to get more value out of electronic identification in Digital Single Market
- Website: JRC scientific and policy report "Pan European survey of practices, attitudes and policy preferences as regards personal identity data management"
- Press release: Digital Agenda: new Regulation to enable cross-border electronic signatures and to get more value out of electronic identification in Digital Single Market