Consumers are increasingly concerned about their privacy and apprehensive about their activities being tracked. They are also very worried about the ways in which their data is being used and about its security. According to Pew Research Center’s new study, Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information, 81% of U.S. consumers say the potential risks of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, and 66% say the same about government data collection. In fact, most Americans do not think it’s possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government (62% and 63%, respectively).
Out of control
Consumer concerns about digital privacy includes those who collect, store, and use their personal information. Nearly eight in 10 consumers are “not too” or “not at all” confident that companies will admit or take responsibility if personal information is compromised or misused. Further, 69% also report this same lack of confidence in the way companies use their personal information.
Most consumers in the US do not feel in control of their own personal data. Eight in 10 consumers report they have little or no control over what data that companies (81%) and the government (84%) collect about them. Consumers report seeing little benefit from all the data that companies (72%) and the government (76%) collect about them.
Concerns about the right to privacy can be traced to the Constitution. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy can be inferred from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments. The concept of privacy has evolved for consumers and now includes access to their digital footprint and all of their personal information. Pew finds that consumers specifically identify privacy as “other people and organizations not being able to access their possessions or private life” (28%) and “control over information, possessions, self; deciding what’s accessible to others” (26%). Many also feel the term “personal data” is interchangeable with “digital data.”
Given the number of major data breaches in the last few years, (Marriott International, Yahoo!, Facebook, Equifax to name a few) it is no wonder that 70% of consumers report that their data is less secure today than it was five years ago.
Few consumers know what companies and the government are doing with the data collected on them. Further, most consumers lack the understanding of personal data tracking policies and restrictions.
Digital sites, especially premium sites with a direct consumer relationship, must find a way to clearly communicate their data tracking polices. Further, it’s important to clearly message data tracking policies with complete transparency on what data is being collected, what data is being used and how it’s being uses.