- The percentage of Irish consumers who say they are “very concerned” about companies using their personal data has decreased significantly from 41% in 2019 to 29% in 2020
- Overall reduction in sharing of personal data across all categories
- 86% have taken some kind of action to restrict access to their data
- 43% have deleted an app over data privacy concerns
- 80% either ‘always, ‘almost always’ or ‘sometimes’ accept terms and conditions without reading them
- Differences across age groups with over 70% of respondents over 55 years saying they would like to restrict use of their data but don’t know how to do so;
In our earlier release from this series which focused on digital usage highlighting a high percentage of respondents having access to smartphones (90%), computers (83%) and / or tablets (64%) and we also use these on a daily basis.
We use them to access social media, online shopping, work related reason, reading the news, steaming video content.
The way we use our devices is forever evolving, who we interact with and how we interact with them changes and the data we share and how it is used has heightened the privacy concerns of consumers. This is further heightened with the number of data privacy related news headlines over the last number of years.
Figure 2. Smartphones are used daily by 93% (2018: 98%) of respondents. There is significant variation in daily usage rates between all types of devices. Daily usage of laptops has increased from 69% to 76%, while desktop daily usage is down from 66% to 59% - reflecting the WFH mandate since 2019.
Irish consumers appear to be more relaxed about companies accessing their data with those “very concerned” about personal data usage decreasing significantly from 41% in 2019 to 29% in 2020. We also see a similar trend with UK consumers dropping from 47% to 24% in 2020.
During a period with increased news coverage around data breaches this might seem unusual.
Awareness may be one reason behind the decrease. While overall awareness that companies use personal data either “all of the time” or “some of the time” has remained consistent at 80% the survey does show that more than 86% of respondents having taken some kind of action due to data privacy concerns.
These actions include:
- Restricted access or adjusted permissions to information for apps / phone (70%)
- Deleted / avoided using an app, online account or device (65%)
- Changed my online browsing behaviour (64%)
- Started using more secure apps / services (50%)
Women appear to be slightly more driven to take action over men, with 87% of women having taken some kind of action, compared to men at 84%.
Consumers appear to be more aware of the data they are sharing, as they are sharing less data than last year. Also last year 15% of consumers didn’t know what they were sharing compared to 11% in 2020. We are sharing less information about our address, purchase history, phone numbers and photos to name but a few.
Figure 4. The % who were “very concerned” about companies using their personal data fell by 12% between 2019 to 2020. The “not very concerned” % increased by 9%.
Figure 5. More than 86% of respondents have taken some kind of action due to data privacy concerns.
Figure 6. The top 3 actions taken due to data privacy concerns are: 1) deleting browser history, 2) deleting an app and 3) refusing apps photos and videos.
Figure 7. Women are slightly more likely to take action due to data privacy concerns than men; The gender gap is highest for looking at more sources of information on privacy/security.
Figure 8. Overall, respondents have shared less information compared to 2019.
Figure 9. The likelihood to take action as a result of being worried about data privacy or security on smartphone declines with age.
Consumer understanding and data control
Given that most social media, online stores, communication apps such as WhatApp require access to your name, phone number and / or email address it is surprising that we are seeing decreases in the sharing of this type of personal data while these apps are growing in popularity.
When you look at the terms and conditions consumers sign up to it can be a challenge to understand what data you are sharing, with 80% of respondents “always”, “almost always” or “sometimes” accepting them without reading them this is not surprising.
Over a quarter of respondents think that the benefits from interacting with companies online outweigh data privacy concerns. The level of agreement with the statement is lower among the older age groups.
Figure 10. Over 80% of respondents accept terms and conditions “always”, “almost always” and “sometimes” without reading them.
Figure 11. Only 29% of respondents think the benefits from interacting with companies online outweigh data privacy concerns.
Figure 12. 68% of women either “strongly agree” or “tend to agree” that they would like to restrict use of data when using online services but don’t know how to compared to 65% among men.
Figure 13. Respondents that are over 55 feel the least able to restrict the use of their online data.
Figure 14. Over a quarter of respondents think that the benefits from interacting with companies online outweigh data privacy concerns. The level of agreement with the statement is lower among the older age groups.
Data sharing will continue
The survey shows that 53% of respondents use WhatsApp on their mobile phones at least daily, followed by Facebook (41%), Instagram (27%) and Twitter (17%).
Consumers will need to understand what data they will share.
Companies will have to be clearer in how they use our data and present it in a clear, concise and understandable way for consumers.
Governments will need to set policies, policies which evolve with the pace of change.
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