Through the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that took effect on 25.5.2018, the topic of data protection was highly represented in the media. But how is the GDPR perceived and how does it change the individual behavior of the German population? Advise did some research concerning this topic in a representative sample in the end of May 2018.
low information status about the gdpr
Almost all participants have heard about the GDPR (91%) at the time of the survey. Overall, more than one third do not or only hardly know what this term could mean (39%), almost one third is informed about it by others (27%) and only a third has sought for information independently or followed the topic actively (34%). The matter is mostly relevant to employees in the industries of finances, law & insurance (61%), as well as employees in IT & communication technology (58%).
low perceived personal relevance of the gdpr
Although the topic data protection is seen as important within the German population, the impact of the GDPR is rather low. Some people are now more conscious about the topic of data protection, also through the presence of the GDPR in the media (29% agree completely or rather agree), but only a few indicate to feel personally affected by it. For instance, only about a fifth (22%) agree with the statement of being affected by the GDPR in a professional context. There are big differences between the various sectors here: Employees in IT & communication technology feel the most professionally affected (47%), as well as employees in finances, law & insurance (43%). Somewhat higher – but still rather low – is the percentage who feels privately affected by the GDPR with only one third (32%), regardless of age and gender. On the other hand, 30% state that they are not privately affected by the GDPR.
gdpr – a lot of fuss about nothing?
At the time of the survey, a total of only 18 percent state to already have changed their behavior due to the GDPR. In age and gender, there are hardly any differences. Also, only a quarter of the respondents (26%) indicates that they will change their behavior in the future because of the new GDPR.
When asked spontaneously what will change in their own behavior due to the GDPR, most of them remain rather vague in their answers. They state to be more careful when disclosing data and processing it or to disclose less data in general in the future. Some also want to learn more about data protection in general. However, only a fraction of respondents mentions concrete action that has already been implemented or planned. Examples are reading general terms and conditions and data protection regulations, changing passwords more frequently or data encryption. Overall, behavioral changes affect the online sector, especially social media. Nonetheless, it is questionable whether changes in behavior will truly be implemented. From psychological research it is known that, especially in global attitudes without concrete action goals – which has been the case here – the expressed planned behavior is not executed in a consequent manner (intention-behavior gap).
Overall, the GDPR appears to have less impact on the German population than anticipated.
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