TRUSTe/NCSA Consumer Privacy Index Reveals Rising Consumer Concerns and a Significant Awareness Deficit; Businesses Pay as Privacy Concerns Discourage Consumers
London – 28 January, 2016 – The TRUSTe/National Cyber Security Alliance GB Consumer Privacy Index reveals the extent of current consumer privacy concerns with noticeably more Brits concerned about not knowing how the personal information collected about them online is being used than losing their principle source of income. Released to coincide with the ninth Data Privacy Day on 28 January 2016, the study found that online privacy concerns topped the loss of personal income by 10 percentage points, even as only 1 in 4 Brits report they understand how companies collect their personal information. Likewise, the business impact of consumers’ privacy concerns remains high with 89 percent avoiding companies they don’t believe protect their privacy and 76 percent of those who worry about their privacy online limiting their online activity in the last 12 months due to their concerns.
Michael Kaiser, Executive Director National Cyber-Security Alliance commented,
“Consumers are increasingly aware, interested and concerned about their privacy and they’re acting on it. However, if Internet users knew more, they would do more. The research points to an awareness-action shortfall that belies a growing confidence in British Internet Users’ personal ability to protect their online data.
“As the vast amounts of data being collected, exchanged and stored online increases, NCSA urges all digital citizens to own their online presence and manage their privacy. We encourage consumers to use available tools and take actionable steps to manage their privacy such as limiting access on social media, keeping all apps, software and devices updated and understanding that their personal information – just like money – has great value and thus, should be protected.”
Just 54 percent of British Internet users trust businesses with their personal information online, exposing a remarkably lacking level of trust. To close this gap, it appears consumers are demanding more transparency in exchange for trust and want to be able to control how data is collected, used and shared with simpler tools to help them manage their privacy online. 51 percent don’t feel they have control over any personal information they may have provided online, 35 percent think protecting personal information online is too complex and 43 percent of those who worry about their privacy online say companies providing clear procedures for removing personal information would increase trust.
Chris Babel, CEO TRUSTe added
“Consumer privacy concern is real and rising and businesses need to act now to rebuild trust with their customers before it hurts the bottom line through lost clicks, downloads and sales. With 3 out of 4 Brits who worry about their privacy online modifying their online activity last year due to privacy concerns this research shows privacy is not just good practice it is simply good business.”
Interestingly given the recent introduction of the so-called ‘Right to be Forgotten’ for Europeans in the EU General Data Protection Regulation, 60 percent already think they have the right to be forgotten. With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris the month before this survey was conducted, there has been a fall in the numbers who think online privacy is more important than national security (36 percent) down nine percentage points from last year’s study. Only 3 in 10 percent think losing online privacy is a part of being more connected
The TRUSTe/National Cyber Security Alliance GB Consumer Privacy Index 2016 is based on data from on online survey conducted by Ipsos MORI with 1,000 British Internet users aged 16-75 from 17-22 December 2015. The research was commissioned by TRUSTe and the NCSA, building on tracking studies conducted over the past four years by both organisations. Comparable research was also conducted in the U.S.
Detailed findings from the 2016 TRUSTe/NCSA GB Consumer Privacy Index:
Overall, the research found that consumer online privacy concerns remain extremely high with 92 percent of British Internet users worrying to some extent about their privacy online – the same percentage as last year. 36 percent said they were frequently or always concerned and 39 percent agreed they were more concerned than one year ago.
73 percent were concerned about not knowing how personal information collected about them online is used compared with 62 percent concerned with losing their principle source of income and 51 percent being a victim of crime in their community. When those aware of activities related to online privacy were asked what made them most concerned about their online privacy, almost half (45 percent) said companies sharing their personal information with other companies.
When those aware of activities related to online privacy were asked what made them most concerned about their online privacy, almost half (45 percent) said companies sharing their personal information with other companies.
74 percent of British Internet users believe that they protect their privacy online very or fairly well and yet their awareness and actions tell a different story.
Of those aware of any activities that can be done to protect privacy online, a notably lower proportion in each case had actually done any of these activities in the last year.
- 58 percent were aware that they could delete cookies, cache or browsing history to help protect their privacy online; yet just 49 percent did
- 44 percent were aware that they could turn off smartphone location tracking; yet only 28 percent did
- 49 percent were aware they could change the settings on their social media accounts; yet only 31 percent did
- 31 percent were aware they could read privacy policies; yet just 12 percent did
Despite this ‘privacy awareness deficit’ the business impact of consumer concerns remains high. 76 percent of British Internet users who worry about their privacy online have limited their online activity in the last year due to privacy concerns. Specifically in the last 12 months:
- 53 percent have not clicked on an online ad
- 46 percent withheld personal info when asked for it
- 31 percent have not downloaded an app/product
- 23 percent stopped an online transaction
Among all online adults, 31 percent have stopped using a website and 24 percent have stopped using an app in the last twelve months because they did not trust them to handle personal information securely. 52 percent of adults who have stopped using either an app or website said that this was because they did not feel comfortable. Interestingly 13 percent said they continued to use a website they didn’t trust to handle their personal information responsibly with 35 percent of those who reported doing this saying it was because it was the only website that sold a particular product or service.
Trust remains a significant issue with just 54 percent of British Internet users trusting most businesses with their personal information online. Healthcare providers (72 percent) and financial organizations (66 percent) were most trusted to handle personal information responsibly. Social Networks (32 percent) and advertisers (19 percent) were the least trusted.
There is more that businesses can do to lower consumer concern and improve trust. Among those who ever worry about their privacy online, the two top ways to lower privacy concerns were companies being more transparent about how they are collecting and using data (37 percent) and having more easy to use tools available to protect personal information (33 percent).
Importantly, British Internet users want control when providing personal information online.
- 50 percent said they wanted control over who has access to their personal information
- 47 percent wanted to know how this is used
- 39 percent wanted to know about the type of info collected.
- 29 percent want to be able to delete personal info collected about them