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Consumers say they value their data privacy, but do little to protect it

March 8, 2021 | By Rande Price, Research Director – DCN @Randeloo

Online data collection continues to dominate the digital industry’s dialogue. Rulings on data practices are evolving as more states propose and pass consumer data protection and privacy acts. Building a framework around privacy offers an opportunity for digital publishers to showcase their direct relationships with consumers. However, consumers need to be a part of the process. They need to understand the specifics of data practices and how to implement the necessary protocols.

Maintaining data privacy

Most consumers do not know how to take meaningful actions to prevent the collection and usage of their data online. Entrust, a data privacy company, conducted a study among 500 adults in the U.S. and U.K., to better understand consumer sentiment around this topic. The findings show that eight in 10 consumers (79%) are somewhat or highly concerned about their data privacy. Further, more than eight in 10 consumers report they are proactive in maintaining data privacy. However, consumers do very little to protect their data. 

Entrust’s survey results show that consumers mainly ignore general terms and data collection notifications of apps and services. Only 43% of consumers say that they carefully review the terms and conditions before downloading a new app or service. Another 28% do not read the terms and conditions because they know they will not understand them.

Research conducted by Digital Content Next (DCN) last year also confirms that consumers have a limited understanding of how to protect themselves from data collection practices. The DCN study shows that consumer knowledge and actions are limited in knowing how to opt out of data collection.

Consumer value exchange

Consumers report a willingness to share their data for personalization. Eight in 10 consumers (83%) are somewhat comfortable with using or storing biometric data with apps and services. Close to two-thirds of consumers (64%) are willing to share information with an app in exchange for more relevant, personalized, and convenient services. Further, 61% report that they are at least somewhat willing to share personal information with an app in exchange for more transparency and control over their data.

Consumer data concerns are growing. Six in 10 consumers (64%) report that their concerns about data privacy increased over the past 12 months. Sixty percent of consumers report the increased concerns are due to the news they hear about data breaches and cyberattacks. Almost half (48%) say their increased concerns stem from the growth of targeted ads based following them online.

Generation segmentation

Across multiple generations, we see an admission of defeat in efforts to maintain their data privacy online. More than half of Gen Z (54%) report it takes too much time to manage their data across apps and services. Over a third of Millennials (37%) report they do not think they have much control over their data. Another four in 10 Gen X consumers (42%) accept privacy terms and conditions as part of using apps. Baby Boomers (41%) report that they don’t know where to start in terms of maintaining their privacy online.

Consumers understand the need for websites and apps to collect online data. Importantly, there is also a willingness on their part to exchange their data in a transparent manner for better services and new products. However, the complexity of maintaining their data privacy is stressful. Consumers want an easy, seamless, and transparent process. Fulfilling this request leads to a more valuable, loyal and trusting audience.

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