SHOULD we be worried about the amount of our private information that is in the hands of tech giants and potential scammers?

That was the subject of a debate in which a cyber-security expert took on a digital marketing leader.

Jake Moore, security specialist for ESET, said: “Your data is out there and people are looking for your data at all times.

“There’s so much information on you that people might be able to find and use against you.“There are bots trawling the web looking for information.”

Bournemouth marketing agency Adido held its Attention 20:20 Digital Debate at Key West on Bournemouth Pier, pitting Mr Moore against Adido’s own boss Andy Headington.

Slovakia-based ESET is the world’s third largest provider of antivirus products and has its UK headquarters in Bournemouth.

Mr Moore showed several members of the audience how he had been able to find personal information about them online which could be useful in hacking their accounts. He had also gained some of Mr Headington’s personal information by posing as an ITV researcher and approaching him through a colleague via LinkedIn.

Mr Headington said: “I don’t think we should really panic about our privacy too much.”

But he said there were valid concerns about the amount of data held by big companies.

“One-third of the apps we use on our phones are owned by Facebook or Google,” he added.

“There are now five companies that effectively run our world and they do that through the exchange of our data and the services they provide back to us.”

He cited a recent deal between music streaming service Spotify and the advertising agency WPP. “One hundred million Spotify records have been sold to WPP to say ‘If these people are listening to this type of music, you might be able to profile them slightly differently’.”

He said most people volunteered their data to tech firms in return for useful services. “All these things are reciprocal,” he added.

He told how Tim Berners-Lee had founded the worldwide web as a “way of decentralising information and data” and was now working on the project Solid, “a version of the internet where we own all our data”.

He added: “There are also good politicians who have woken up to the fact that data and privacy are in the hands of far too few people.”

In a live poll online, 69 per cent of the audience concluded they should be concerned about privacy.

The event was hosted by Mark Masters of the ID Group.