Consumers' awareness of data protection issues seems to be at its highest in Germany, with most Germans (65%) believing that they themselves are primarily responsible for protecting their personal data, according to a study conducted for PayBack by market research firm NHI2. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Nationally, only 15% of consumers put the onus on the German government or other legislative bodies, while 9% saw service providers and brands as being responsible for protecting customer data, and 8% felt that this was the job of the relevant data protection authorities. Only 2% believe that the responsibility lies with consumer protection bodies.

When asked about who is responsible for protecting personal data, there was a clear difference in the answers provided by young people (i.e. up to the age of 29) and older respondents.

While 66.8% of older respondents accept responsibility for data security, only 47.5% of younger respondents see themselves as responsible. Younger people tend to believe that the onus mainly lies on the responsible providers.

Consumers in Germany treat different types of personal data in very different ways. They have the gravest reservations about revealing their own bank details (89%). They are also very cautious with regard to medical files and medical histories (85%), information relating to income (83%) and personal photos (82%).

In contrast, information on hobbies and interests (30%), date of birth (38%), email addresses (48%) and purchases (49%) is seen as less sensitive.

It is very important to Germans that they know how their data is being handled. More than 90% feel uncertain and concerned about how companies treat stored data, whether the data is passed on to third parties, and who has access to the data.

More than 80% of Germans fear that strangers could gain access to their bank account and that everything they do as consumers is being tracked by third parties. 80% also felt harassed by advertising campaigns. Only 1% of respondents claimed to have no concerns.

The study was carried out by telephone in January 2015, and a total of 1,000 randomly selected people aged between 18 and 80 were surveyed.