Identity fraud concerns have increased 15 per cent over the last two years, according to an Ofcom survey. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the 3,000 British adults surveyed said they were concerned about the volume of personal data that businesses hold about them.
The findings are part of Ofcom’s latest Media Literacy Audits, surveys of adults and children designed to inform the development of the regulator's policies on digital media services and technologies. However, the poll neglected to address whether or not the high profile HMRC data loss fiasco has affected the British public's attitudes to information security breaches and identity theft.
But it did suggest people are being a bit more careful about handing over sensitive data online than they were in 2005, even though 11 per cent still fail to check the provenance of websites before handing over their details - a finding that will please would-be phishing fraudsters.
More households (31 per cent in 2007 compared to 25 per cent in 2005) apply PIN controls to apply child-blocking controls to multi-channel television viewing. However, fewer UK homes use censorware software on internet conncetions, particularly in households with older children (usage has fallen 55 per cent to 51 per cent in homes with children of between eight and 11, and from 50 per cent to 43 per cent of households with 12-15s). Four in five parents who failed to apply internet controls said they prefer to trust their child to act responsibly rather than trust in technology, Ofcom reports.
The survey uncovered a series of vague concerns about various aspects of technology that have become the staple fodder of Daily Mail editorials over recent years. Affordability, "happy slapping" and risks to health were cited as worries by the one in three adults who expressed concerns about mobile phones. Even though academic research has largely failed to demonstrate a link between violent video games and bad behaviour, two-thirds of older children reckon that violence in games affects actions outside the game. A similar proportion of adults (68 per cent) also worried about the effects of violent shoot-em-ups on youngsters.
Only a minority of the children surveyed (23 per cent) were aware that downloading music and video from file-sharing services was illegal.
"This research helps Ofcom understand how people’s use of digital technology has changed as it becomes ever more a part of our lives," said Stewart Purvis, Ofcom’s partner for content and standards. "Although we have come a long way in the past few years, we need to ensure that people are not left behind by the pace of change.
"In particular, Ofcom will work with its partners and stakeholders to help all citizens develop the skills, knowledge and understanding to make full use of the opportunities available and to protect themselves and their families from possible risks."