Social networking sites, retailers, financial and government organisations have all been named and shamed by Australians as potential dodgy data dealers, with a new survey revealing a shocking level of distrust by consumers with most aware their online browsing is being tracked and many claiming they donât want targeted advertising.
The new online Newspoll survey of more than 1,200 Australians aged 18 to 64 found just three in 10 people trust social networking websites to protect their personal information with the older population claiming the greatest level of distrust. Only 15 per cent of 50-64 year olds and a quarter of 35-49 year olds said they trust sites like Facebook and Twitter, compared with more than four in 10 18-34 year olds.
The results, revealed in the latest round of survey series Crossman Insights by public relations consultancy Crossman Communications, showed that consumers were suspicious of retailers, with only half of the population asserting they trust them with their personal information.
Itâs not just social networking sites and retailers Australians canât rely on for data protection. Government and financial organisations also sustained a level of distrust with seven in 10 respondents indicating that they had confidence in government or financial groups to protect their details.
Managing Director of Crossman Communications, Jackie Crossman, said Australians are well-connected and live in one of the most digitally-rich countries in the world, but data security still remains a problem.
âWe all take advantage and accept the convenience of free internet services and mobile apps. The online world has provided consumers with instant access to products and services once unthinkable,â Ms Crossman said.
âIn this digital age, thereâs not a lot you canât do on a smartphone or tablet, but our every Google search, app downloaded, online purchase and âselfie Generic Cialisâ is captured, tracked and used by companies, and sometimes sold to third parties both locally and offshore,â she said.
âAustralians, myself included, are unaware of what our digital profiles are being used for, what personal data is being collected and who itâs shared with. Thereâs also much concern around intensely personal data being used to make sensitive predictions around consumers, so the question is where does it end and where do we draw the line,â she said.
âConsumers are told thereâs an array of benefits that come with data tracking such as helping companies to determine what advertisements we see online, which articles to read, what song you should listen to next or what school your children should go to but surprisingly, many survey participants indicate they donât want to view tailored advertising,â she said.
The Crossman Insights Newspoll research showed that while three quarters of respondents (72 per cent) are aware their internet browsing can be tracked and used to show more targeted, relevant advertising, only four in 10 said they would prefer to see online ads for products and services that relate to their personal interests.
A quarter (24 per cent) of those surveyed said they would prefer generic online advertising and a third (33 per cent) had no preference. While half of those aged 18-34 (50 per cent) said they would prefer targeted online advertising, just four in 10 (39 per cent) of 35-64 year olds said the same.
âWe all value privacy, but when weâre constantly being watched on and offline, itâs gradually becoming non-existent. The explosion of data being generated and analysed is only going to grow in the years to come, so thereâs a need for consumer protection to ensure transparency, choice and other basic privacy principles,â Ms Crossman said.