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Privacy is important to European citizens – but there are large differences between the countries

New research has found that on average 67 % of European citizens think that the protection of their privacy is important or very important.

The research, conducted by the EU funded PRISMS project, surveyed (between February and May 2014)  more than 27,000 European citizens over the age of 16 and found that citizen think find it especially important „to know who has information about them“, to have „control who has access to their medical files (both 80%), to „make telephone calls without being monitored“ (79 %) and to „meet people without being monitored“ (76 %).

The survey showed, however, that there are significant differences throughout Europe. Measured on a scale from 0 (not at all important) to 1 (essential) the overall importance of privacy for citizens ranges from 0,46 in Bulgaria to 0,66 in Germany and Finland.

The researchers found that the citizens’ assessment is often related to their trust in institutions such as government bodies but also businesses. Countries with a particular high trust include Finland, Germany while trust in institutions is low in Bulgaria and Portugal. There are, however, a few countries with authoritarian historical experiences (Spain, Greece) where citizens  considered privacy important and have little trust in government bodies in particular.