One in five Irish people do not trust public sector bodies to guard their personal information in a safe and secure manner, according to a survey conducted by the Office of The Data Protection Commissioner.
The survey reveals that the level of public distrust in public sector bodies, including the Revenue Commissioners and government departments, is identical as private sector bodies.
However, 36pc of those questioned by The Data Protection Commissioner survey said that they “strongly” believed that public sector organisations keep personal information secure.
The survey results, which were collected in summer 2013 but are only being released now, are being published by the data protection commissioner to raise awareness of privacy issues ahead of European Data Protection Day, today.
The survey, which was conducted by Millward Brown, revealed that over two thirds of Irish people believe that they have suffered an invasion of privacy, with unsolicited emails and text messages being the most common result of such privacy breaches.
The survey also revealed sharp Irish regional divides in how people value their privacy. While 95pc of Connacht and Ulster residents said that privacy and personal information was “very important”, just 67pc of Dubliners said the same.
Similarly, while 57pc of Dubliners said that their medical history was sacrosanct, the figure for respondents in Connacht and Ulster was 89pc. And whereas 59pc of Dubliners said that the privacy of their PPS number was important, 80pc of those in the rest of Leinster said the same.
However, concerns over abuse of personal information on social media and websites has fallen considerably in Ireland.
According to the survey, concerns regarding privacy settings on social networking sites now stand at 49pc, a fall of 12pc from the last survey taken, in 2008. Similarly, concerns regarding information that might appear if someone enters a name into a search engine fell from 65pc to 44pc, according to survey.
“The survey results again demonstrate that Irish citizens continue to have legitimate concerns about privacy in relation to internet use,” said the Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes.
“In relation to indications that people have become more accepting of the potential availability of their personal information online, the experience of this Office is that vigilance should be maintained at all times by individuals when posting personal information online, particularly where that information is available for public viewing. Regarding the increase in unsolicited electronic communications reported by respondents, we continue to devote considerable attention to this area and to prosecute offenders who breach regulations regarding unsolicited electronic communications."