Another year, another Data Privacy Day. Today, Big Tech will tell us what they’re doing to protect your personal information and dozens of articles will be published on how to protect personal data. Check, check — on to the next one.
There’s no doubt that consumer awareness of data privacy is growing. Films like “The Social Dilemma” and “The Great Hack” are bringing attention to the matter along with calls from U.S. legislators for tighter data regulations, similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And although consumers are learning more about data privacy, a single Data Privacy Day — while important — isn’t going to teach them everything.
Entrust recently surveyed 1,000 consumers from the U.S. and U.K. on their data privacy education, their understanding of how personal data is used, and how they would prefer to be educated about data protection in the future. This blog kicks off our series “Data Privacy Diaries,” where we’ll break down what we found in the data and share resources on how to help keep personal information safe.
Future posts in the series will dig even deeper into the data. But today we’ll share an introductory overview of our survey findings. Here’s what consumers have to say about data privacy knowledge and education.
1. Consumers will trade personal data for personalized services, but have fast-growing concerns about data privacy at the same time
There’s no doubt that consumers will share their personal data in exchange for some benefit. Sixty-four percent said they’re willing to share personal information with an app in exchange for personalized services, and 61% said they’ll exchange personal data with an app to gain more transparency and control over their data. Additionally, 83% of respondents said they’re comfortable using biometric data (e.g., fingerprints and facial recognition), and 68% said they store payment details on their devices for banking or payment apps.However, respondents also noted their apprehensions about data privacy, which are rapidly growing. In fact, 79% of consumers said they’re concerned about data privacy, and 64% said that concern has increased in the past 12 months. The top reasons for consumers’ heightened concerns were news stories about data breaches and seeing an increase in targeted ads on social media.
The data reflects growing consumer interest in privacy-focused apps like the private messaging app Signal, encrypted email service ProtonMail and web browser DuckDuckGo. And while increasing traffic on privacy-first apps is significant, there’s much consumers still need to learn, as confirmed by our data
2. Consumers think they know more than they actually do about personal data security
An overwhelming majority of consumers (82%) considered themselves proactive about maintaining their data privacy — but other findings in our data question that.For example, 43% of respondents said they don’t carefully review terms and conditions before downloading a new app. Moreover, 69% of those who don’t read terms and conditions they said don’t because it takes too much time. We understand this sentiment — actually reading all the terms and conditions the typical Internet user encounters can take an extremely long time — 76 work days, in fact. But what’s more concerning was the fact that more than a quarter of respondents (28%) said they don’t read terms and conditions because they don’t understand what the agreement explains. And 23% said they don’t think terms and conditions will affect them, which we know is not the case.
Another indicator of consumers’ data privacy knowledge gap is their lack of understanding in security tech and concepts. Although respondents said they have a basic understanding of passwords (77%) and biometric authentication (60%), they reported a much lower understanding of many other security approaches. Less than half of consumers indicated a basic understanding of anti-virus/anti-malware technology (44%), multi-factor authentication (43%) and encryption (33%).
These consumer patterns make it clear that more education is needed to close data security knowledge gaps and ensure personal information is protected.
3. Documentaries are bringing attention to data privacy education, but old fashioned news is still the go-to learning source for consumers
Although “The Social Dilemma” has reached an estimated 100 million viewers and “The Great Hack” received rave reviews, consumers ranked news and media sites as their top education source on data privacy. Friends and family and television programs were their second and third choices, while video streaming (e.g., Netflix and YouTube) and social media rounded out the top five.However, just because consumers use these sources doesn’t mean they trust them. Respondents ranked social media, news and media sites, and television programs as some of the least trustworthy educational sources on data privacy, despite their high use of these channels.
|Education sources on personal data protection, rankings by use vs. trustworthiness (1 = highest; 10 = lowest)|
|Education source on personal data protection||Consumer ranking based on their level of use||Consumer ranking based on their level of trustworthiness|
|News and media sites||1||8|
|Video streaming (i.e., Netflix, YouTube, etc.)||4||9|
|Data privacy organizations||6||2|
|Movies or documentaries||7||7|
|Companies that make the apps I use||8||4|
|Books or magazines||9||3|
|Podcasts or radio programs||10||5|
It’s clear that consumers have trust issues with the sources they frequent. But the gap in how much they use certain sources for data privacy education versus how much they trust these sources indicates their priority for convenience.
4. Big brands have more work to do in earning consumer trust on data privacy
Although consumers around the world rely on the services big brands provide daily, nearly 80% of respondents said they don’t trust these types of companies to keep their personal information secure.We can’t say their distrust doesn’t make sense. You just need to read the headlines for the large, well-known corporations where data breaches have compromised millions of customers. This could also explain why nearly a third (31%) of consumers said they actively monitor the news for any potential breaches involving their information.
Global brands should take this distrust from consumers seriously. And with almost half of respondents (46%) saying they look to companies to keep them informed about breaches involving their personal data, they owe it to consumers to be safe and responsible with their data.
Beyond Data Privacy Day
There’s plenty of work to be done for consumers in deepening their knowledge on data privacy. The same can also be said for global brands in gaining consumer trust. Now that we see where the data lies on data privacy, we want all stakeholders — both in consumer and business circles — to be responsible actors.
Follow our blog to read our next series installment of #DataPrivacyDiaries on Safer Internet Day (February 9), where we’ll explore how consumers and businesses can come together to make the internet a safer and better place.
To learn more about Entrust’s data protection solutions, go to https://www.entrust.com/digital-security/hsm.