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Two thirds of Irish adults fear their personal data is being sold without their consent

9 Jan 2019
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Research released today to launch the 2019 Cantillon Conference has highlighted concerns, misconceptions and misunderstandings among Irish people around the collection and use of their personal data.

The research, commissioned by IT Tralee and Fexco, finds that over two thirds (67%) of adults are concerned that their personal data is being sold to third parties without their knowledge or consent, with a similar proportion (65%) agreeing that they are concerned that their right to privacy is being compromised by the collection and use of their personal data by companies.

By contrast, when asked about how their data is held after it is collected, only 21% were aware of what happened to their personal data when it is provided to a company, and only 22% could confirm how long their data could be legally stored for.

It is also clear that a healthy distrust for authority lingers, with 50% of respondents agreeing that the government holds too much of their personal data and almost one fifth (19%) confirming the same for their employer.

Today’s research was launched by IT Tralee and Fexco ahead of the 2019 Cantillon Conference which will take place on Thursday, 28 March at the Rose Hotel, Tralee.

The findings also compel companies to take stock of how they collect personal data where 88% of respondents do not think it necessary for companies to collect the volume and breadth of data that they do. 81% of respondents claim that they would consider not buying a product or using a service if the data ask is too detailed or invasive. This reluctance to engage with a product or service increases with age and peaks with those aged 55-64 (92%), while those aged 18-24 (67%) are less likely to claim it would influence their behaviour.

Named in honour of Ballyheigue native Richard Cantillon, a pioneering economist credited with the origin of the term entrepreneur, this annual event brings together a host of national and international industry leaders, economists, journalists, academics and entrepreneurs to examine and explore key technology-related topics.

MC’d by science and technology broadcaster Jonathan McCrea; Cantillon 2019 will look at how raw data generated from online interactions can be used to inform decisions in an always-on, global environment. It will focus on the theme of ‘Data on the Edge’ and will explore the concept of using data at the cutting edge of disruptive innovation.

Launching the conference, Brendan O Donnell, Vice President, Academic Affairs and Registrar at Institute of Technology Tralee said:

‘The IT Tralee Cantillon Conference, which is sponsored by our partners at Fexco, has grown to become the premier tech conference for the South West region. We are delighted to once again provide a forum that allows people to interact and share practice on how data can influence decisions and change lives as we move forward in an age where technology increasingly dominates our lives.’

Ruth McCarthy, CEO of Fexco Corporate Payments said:

‘It is clear from the research launched today that companies need to become more adept and efficient in how they collect and store data, ensuring they gather only what is required to maintain the customer relationship and that it is securely stored. It is worth consumers bearing in mind that when a service is offered for free in exchange for provision of personal data, then clearly someone in the value chain is finding a way of monetising that data.

‘Events like Cantillon help to solidify the South West’s position as the driving force behind some of Ireland’s most important technology industries, including data and fintech. I am excited to explore the findings in more depth at the event with global experts in the field.’

The findings demonstrate that people are comfortable sharing personal data where they see a benefit. When asked if they would be happy to share their personal data when availing of services, if it meant that they would receive a better, more tailored overall service in the future 74% of respondents said they would be happy to share data for healthcare services, with educational services the only other service for which adults would be more willing to share than not. By contrast only 13% would provide it to Gaming outlets, 20% to marketing communications and 32% to retailers.

Breda O’Dwyer, Senior Lecturer and MTU Project Lead for Research and Engagement at Institute of Technology Tralee added,

‘The focus of data at Cantillon 2019 is timely given the research findings. While the research reveals that data can be perceived as a negative by consumers, it is crucial to present the positive case for data and how it can be used to establish cause, protect consumers’ information and predict future trends.’

Attendees at Cantillon 2019 will hear from a host of prominent speakers from companies including; Fexco, PFH Technology Group, Indeed, HSBC, Netfeasa, PG&E USA, Deloitte, Alliance Bernstein, Cork Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tralee, and UCD, among others, who will share their insights and expertise on data-related topics, including:

  • Insights on data trends shaping the global economy
  • Giving predictive power to raw data
  • Using data intelligently for financial planning
  • How data can be used to inform product design and development
  •  IoT – securing smart spaces and the edge through intelligent use of data

To purchase tickets for this event and for more information visit

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