Government can win over privacy skeptics by providing additional convenience in exchange

Citizens surveyed are willing to share their personal data if governments offer them convenience and personalized services

Joe Mariani

United States

How many citizens are willing to trade their sensitive personal information for more convenient government services? According to our survey, the answer is “a lot”—but with a caveat.

In today’s digital age, it is safe to assume that organizations collect your data whenever you use the internet. Over the last two decades, internet users have skyrocketed from 300 million to more than 5 billion in 2022.1 As social and economic activities have moved online, governments seem to have recognized the significance of data privacy, leading to 137 countries enacting data privacy legislation to address the growing concerns.2

In a world of identity theft and data breaches, citizens are increasingly concerned about the security of their private information. Respondents of Deloitte’s recent Digital Citizen Survey flagged “privacy concerns” as the second most significant deterrent (after poor website user experience) to accessing government digital services.3 However, despite these concerns, respondents say they are still willing to share their data with the government for the sake of convenience.

About the Deloitte Digital Citizen Survey, 2022

In November and December 2022, Deloitte surveyed 5,800 individuals across 13 countries to learn about their use of government digital services. Access further information on the survey methodology and respondent profile here.

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Citizens surveyed are comfortable sharing data to prevent crimes, predict pandemics, and get personalized services

Although privacy concerns are important, our survey revealed that constituents are willing to share sensitive personal information with governments for convenience, personalized services, and even for the benefit of the public.

Sharing data is not restricted to just technology enthusiasts. Even those respondents who are worried about privacy are willing to share their data in certain situations, such as tracking and predicting pandemics (76%), accessing multiple transportation options (67%), and receiving personalized government services (75%) (figure 1).

Willingness to share data varies around the world

Singaporeans surveyed have a higher tendency (83%) to share their personal information to help prevent crimes than Danes (58%). Japanese respondents are most comfortable sharing data to get personalized social care services among all the services, which might be explained by the country’s focus on supporting an aging population. South Africans (85%) are the most willing to share data for personalized job recommendations, likely due to the country’s high unemployment rate of almost 33%.4 In contrast, in Europe—where the General Data Protection Regulation is in force—only 57% are comfortable sharing data for job alerts, indicating a higher preference for privacy.5 Across all 13 countries surveyed, more than 70% of respondents feel comfortable sharing their data to track diseases and prevent future pandemics.

Considerations for government agencies

Government agencies can improve customer experience and encourage data sharing by implementing these strategies:

Lead with benefit: To encourage citizens to share personal data, the government should offer something of value in return. This could be a public benefit, personalized services, or simply convenient access to government services. While protecting data is important, advertising the fact may not attract citizens to participate.6

Avoid asking for information repeatedly: According to the survey, 60% of respondents reported being hassled by government agencies repeatedly asking for the same information. While respondents appreciate the value of sharing data, they may be less likely to be open to doing it if it becomes a bother. Agencies can consider adopting a once-only principle that seeks information only once from citizens.7

Collect only necessary information to alleviate privacy concerns: Even if agencies provide something of value in return, they should collect only essential data to deliver a service. For example, if an agency needs to verify an applicant's age to grant them a driving license, the agency doesn’t need a date of birth; it only needs proof that the applicant is aged at least 16. The agency can simply send a query to a database whether a person is 16 years or older. The binary answer from the database should be sufficient to verify the age.

Joe Mariani

United States


  1. Internet World Stats, “Internet growth statistics: Today’s road to e-commerce and global trade internet technology reports,” accessed July 12, 2023.

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  2. United Nations Conference on Trade And Development, “Data protection and privacy legislation worldwide,” accessed July 12, 2023.

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  3. Deloitte surveyed 5,800 constituents across 13 countries in November and December 2022. Access further information on the survey methodology and respondent profiles here.

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  4. Statistics South Africa, “Beyond unemployment: Time-related underemployment in the SA labor market,” May 16, 2023.

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  5. General Data Protection Regulation European Union (GDPR EU), “What is GDPR, the EU’s new data protection law?,” accessed August 8, 2023.

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  6. William D. Eggers, Jean Gil Barroca, David Noone, Pankaj Kishnani, and Mahesh Kelkar, The digital citizen: A global survey of how people perceive government digital services, Deloitte Insights, accessed August 8, 2023.

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  7. William D. Eggers, Jaimie Boyd, Joshua Knight, Simon Cooper, and Pankaj Kamleshkumar Kishnani, How government can deliver streamlined life event experiences, Deloitte Insights, July 12, 2022.

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The authors would like to thank David Noone from the Deloitte Center for Government Insights for his thoughtful review and feedback on the draft.

Cover image by: Jaime Austin.