People, Power and Technology: the 2018 Digital Attitudes Report

Read the report at

The internet is the defining technology of our age. Connectivity and information are utilities, like electricity or water, that touch and influence every aspect of modern life in ways we can and cannot see.

The fact that it’s happening does not necessarily mean we are happy about it. Internet-connected products and services are almost ubiquitous: often we use them without thinking; frequently we have no choice.

Today we launch new research which looks beyond internet usage and explores how the British public thinks and feels about the internet technologies shaping our world and changing our lives. It is based on a nationally representative survey of 2,000 people online and 500 by phone, backed by in-depth conversations in focus groups, which are quoted in this report.

This is the first of two reports on that research. In the second report we will present detailed analysis of the public’s understanding of digital technologies.

This report highlights:

  • The internet has had a strongly positive impact on our lives as individuals, but people are less convinced it has been beneficial for society as a whole. 50% say it has made life a lot better for people like themselves, only 12% say it’s had a very positive impact on society.
  • There is a major understanding gap around technologies. Only a third of people are aware that data they have not actively chosen to share has been collected. A quarter have no idea how internet companies make their money.
  • People feel disempowered by a lack of transparency in how online products and services operate. 89% want clearer terms and conditions, half would like to know how their data is used but can’t find out.
  • There is a public demand for greater accountability from technology companies. Two thirds say government should be helping ensure companies treat their customers, staff and society fairly.

To read the full report, including our recommendations, visit