Connected citizens privacy defender

Meet the Privacy Defenders

Earning the trust of the Privacy Defenders is crucial – here’s what governments need to know about them.

This persona description forms part of the EY Connected Citizens series, which outlines seven global citizen personas that governments must plan for when developing digital services.

Privacy Defenders tend to be older, value their independence and have spent most of their life financially secure. However, they’re concerned about their future job and financial security, and want the government to prioritize economic growth and job creation. Privacy Defenders value technology and the benefits it provides to them. But they are very concerned about the risks of sharing their personal data. They have low levels of trust in government and politicians. As a result, they would like more transparency in government performance, and many would like a bigger say in how public services are delivered.

Privacy Defenders are one of our midsize segments, at 17% of the total, and are prominent in Mexico, South Africa, Malaysia and the US.

Meet Bill – a Privacy Defender

Bill is a representative of our Privacy Defenders segment. He is 48 and lives with his wife in Akron, Ohio, US. Bill was happy with his life before the pandemic, earning a good salary in his role as an operations manager for an auto parts company, but he now feels less secure. He has seen the impact of the pandemic on jobs in his local area and now feels aware of the need to keep his skills up to date in case he finds himself having to look for a new job.

Bill is concerned that the COVID-19 crisis will cause serious and lasting damage to the global economy, and fears young people will have a worse life than his own generation. He thinks government should prioritize health care, a strong economy and job creation, as well as put a greater focus on reducing crime levels, creating affordable housing and tackling poverty in the city.

When Bill interacts with government services, he is rarely satisfied with the experience. He often feels frustrated with the inefficiency of these services and would like to see better value for money, faster and easier interactions, and more knowledgeable staff who treat him with respect.

Bill has a general distrust of government and political parties, which he thinks are failing to tackle the most pressing challenges for the country. He would like to see greater transparency in how services are performing and more equal service provision. He thinks the quality of services would be improved if government involved citizens more, from asking what they want from public services, to involving them in design and providing opportunities to give regular feedback.

Financially prudent by nature, Bill is now even more careful with money, and would prefer to save for his and his wife’s future than indulge in luxuries today. In particular, he wants to make sure they have good pension provision so they can retire when they want to.

Living a healthy lifestyle is also important to Bill, and he visits the gym several times a week. He likes to keep up with the latest advances in technology and owns a range of devices: a smartphone, laptop, smart TV, tablet and games console. He uses technology in most aspects of his life, from monitoring his investments to doing the weekly grocery shopping, and thinks this is only going to increase in the future.

Despite his progressive attitude to technology, Bill has a strong awareness of his digital footprint and is more cautious than most when it comes to sharing his personal data. Privacy and anonymity are core priorities. He distrusts social media companies and shares a minimal amount of personal information on networking sites. Although he would like services to be more personalized to meet his individual needs, he goes to great lengths to limit how much data he shares with government agencies and the companies from whom he buys products and services. 

Bill is uncomfortable at the prospect of government sharing his data within or outside of the public sector, even when this would help planning and decision-making that would directly benefit citizens. And although he gets impatient at having to repeat his personal details when interacting with different government agencies, he still prefers this to having a digital citizen ID that would allow different organizations access to his personal data. Until he has been reassured that his data is completely safe, he doesn’t want to see any advanced digital solutions in public services.

Question for government: How can government minimize the risks and unlock the benefits of data sharing to alleviate concerns of Privacy Defenders?

Technical notes about the Connected Citizens study

These profiles are a representation of what a typical member of each segment might look like, based on the data from the EY Connected Citizens survey, constructed to illustrate some of the key characteristics of the segment. The Connected Citizens survey was carried out by Ipsos MORI for EY between July 2020 and September 2020. Interviews took place online with 12,100 participants of working age across 12 countries. Quotas were set by age, gender, region and working status in order to achieve a representative sample in each country. Data was weighted by age, gender, region, working status and education to correct for imbalances in the national samples. As the survey was carried out online, samples in emerging markets are likely to be more urban, educated and connected than the overall population. All surveys are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.


If governments are to use citizen data to improve public services, they must do more to earn the trust of the Privacy Defenders. This group is not resistant to technology, but Privacy Defenders are uncomfortable at the prospect of the government sharing their data within or outside of the public sector, often even when this would help planning and decision-making that would directly benefit citizens.

Meet the rest of our Connected Citizen personas

Meet the Diligent Strivers

Meet the Diligent Strivers, one of the personas created from our Connected Citizens research.

19 Jun 2023 Arnauld Bertrand + 1

Meet the Capable Achievers

Meet the Capable Achievers, one of the personas created from our Connected Citizens research.

19 Jun 2023 Arnauld Bertrand + 1

Meet the Aspirational Technophiles

Learn what these digital natives think about digital government and how they can be an ally in the development of online public services.

19 Jun 2023 Arnauld Bertrand + 1

Meet the Tech Skeptics

Meet the Tech Skeptics, one of the personas created from our Connected Citizens research.

19 Jun 2023 Arnauld Bertrand + 1

Meet the Struggling Providers

Life is difficult for the Struggling Providers and they are at the greatest risk of social and digital exclusion.

19 Jun 2023 Arnauld Bertrand + 1

Meet the Passive Outsiders

Meet the Passive Outsiders, one of the personas created from our Connected Citizens research.

19 Jun 2023 Arnauld Bertrand + 1