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Data privacy concerns put citizens off online contact with government

Public sector needs to adapt to changing citizen demands

Despite the majority of UK citizens saying they access government services digitally, a third are concerned about their personal data, according to research from business consultancy Accenture.

The survey found that three-quarters of the 200 people questioned thought that it was easier or about the same to interact with government when compared to private companies.

About a third perceived no barriers to digital interactions with government, but the same amount said the biggest barrier to increased digital interaction is the concern that the government would have "too much" personal data.

Citizens want increased access to public services and are more inclined to use digital channels, including online and mobile resources, to conduct routine government business, said Accenture. The majority already use the internet for submitting and tracking government forms and payments and half want to use more online channels in the future.

"Digital citizens are empowered in ways that previous generations could only imagine," said Mark Lyons, Accenture UK managing director of health and public service.

"They can initiate and dictate the dynamics of citizen-to-government relationships with a tweet, blog post or Facebook message sent to hundreds of people from their smartphone."

Lyons said governments around the world face a "new reality" of citizen expectations and need to change the ways they deliver public services to reflect changing consumer preferences around communication methods.

A Digital Advisory Board, comprising of industry experts, has been created by the government to improve government services online, and met for the first time last month.

The Accenture survey found:

65 percent of citizens use a website or portal to interact with the government

66 percent would use electronic renewal alerts and 60 percent would be willing to receive electronic emergency alerts through digital channels

Only 35 percent prefer postal mail for bill payments

About 50 percent said they would use social media to contact a government official to resolve a problem, and 52 percent said they would use a mobile website or apps

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