Trust is key to successful digitalization. Therefore, all actors of digitalization – companies and authorities – need to be heavily engaged in building it.

A high level of Swedish trust in authorities is expressed in a recent public opinion survey, the Tieto Security Barometer. It shows that eight out of ten Swedes, a whopping 82 per cent, trust how public authorities handle their personal data. That is a sharp increase since the introduction of GDPR. Before the new legislation in May 2018, only 60 per cent of Swedes expressed trust in the ability of the public authorities to handle their data appropriately.

Still much to prove

Although the increase in trust is welcome news, we still have a long way to go to prove to citizens how their personal data can contribute to improving public services. Swedes are very much divided in their view about utilizing data to improve public services and societal functions. While 42 per cent regards this as positive, 48 per cent of respondents holds a negative view.

That four out of ten Swedes hold a positive view is good news, but the number needs to increase. For the public and private sector to be able to contribute fully to a positive societal development by digitalizing public services, we need more citizens to trust the authorities to collect, analyze and make use of their data.

The trust in companies does not appear to be what it needs to be

What gives food for thought is that the company side is looking much bleaker. The trust in companies does not appear to be what it needs to be. Of Swedes, only 60% regard companies as highly or somewhat reliable in handling their personal data; and only 7% see companies as highly reliable personal data handlers. The respective latter percentage for authorities is 22% – not that hot, either.

One explanation to the above figures could be that people are uncertain about their own rights relating to their personal data. A mere 29 per cent of people know how to find out what information the authorities hold about them.

Promoting trust is our top priority

To promote and retain the trust of citizens and consumers, both the private and public sector must work together to listen to concerns, learn from errors made and put cyber security at the top of the agenda. For us at Tieto, this is a top priority. Through our Security Barometer, we gather knowledge about the data-related concerns of citizens and track their cybersecurity awareness. We have also joined the MyData Global organisation, whose goal is to promote people’s autonomy regarding their personal data.

It has been said before but deserves to be said again – trust is a cornerstone of digitalization. A low level of trust in how the private and public sectors utilize personal data could potentially slow down digitalization in Sweden, leading to a less efficient, sustainable and innovative society. Let us work together to earn that trust.

One of the things we as Tieto are doing in practice is that our first Tieto Talks, our new seminar series starting this year, will be about security. Don’t miss out on our breakfast seminar in Stockholm (March 5th)  and Helsinki (March 12th) where the topic is ”How highly is Cybersecurity rated in your organization?”