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Users conflicted about privacy, security


While European and Middle Eastern consumers have confidence in some organisations to keep their data safe, many are willing to share their personal information in return for using a service for free.
This is according to an EMEA-wide study by Opinium Research on behalf of F5 Networks, that surveyed more than 7 000 consumers across the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Poland, exploring their attitudes towards data security and handling.
Sharing data with private companies left nearly three quarters (70%) of consumers concerned that their data would get into the wrong hands, followed closely by their privacy being compromised (64%). Social media brands and marketing companies fared the worst: 75% of consumers stated they do not trust either with their personal data at all, and only 21% were confident that they could protect consumer data effectively from hackers.
But for some, these fears were overlooked if it meant they could use a company’s services for free.
More than half were willing to share their date of birth (53%), marital status (51%) and personal interests (50%); in Poland, 58% would share their shopping habits, and half of consumers in Saudi Arabia, their mobile number. Yet almost a fifth (18%) stated they would not give up their data at all, rising to 33 per cent in the UK. In fact, UK consumers were consistently the least willing to give up their data across EMEA.
While consumers regarded banks as the most trustworthy companies (7%) and had more confidence in them to protect their data (73%) compared with other sectors, there remains a dissatisfaction in the methods used to protect their data.
Consumers believed that banks (77%), followed by healthcare (715), and public sector and government (74%), needed to field better authentication capabilities to achieve greater security.
Meanwhile, 88% of consumers feel strongly that organisations should improve authentication for greater security.
“There are clear differences in the type of companies that consumers trust with their data,” says Mike Convertino, chief information security office and vice-president: information security at F5 Networks. “Companies with a traditional focus on security, such as banks, are by far considered the most trustworthy but interestingly, we share the most information with social media channels despite the fact that we trust these companies the least to keep our data safe.
“Regardless of the industry, any consumer facing organisation needs to ensure that its protection is in line with its customers increasing demands.
“As we all become more aware of the risks, it becomes even more important to get a security and data protection infrastructure – technology, education and processes – in place that is stringent enough to protect against threats, but does not harm the customer experience.”
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), recently approved by the European Parliament, gives citizens the right to complain and obtain redress if their data is misused within the EU.
When asked what they viewed as misusing their data, over two thirds (67%) believed it was sharing their data with third parties without consent. Across EMEA, Poland (71%) and UK (75%) consumers felt strongest about sharing their data without consent as misuse.
In the wake of the Apple and FBI debate over smartphone unlocking, 43% of consumers agree with the statement that technology organisations should prioritise national security over consumer privacy and give government agencies access to locked devices. The figures were even higher in the UK (50%) and Bene (49%), but lower in Germany (38%) and Saudi Arabia (37%).
The responsibility for protecting consumers against cyber terrorist threats is also up for debate. Over one fifth (21%) of consumers believe that we should be responsible for protecting ourselves whilst twice as many (43%) felt that it was the job of the government of their country to protect its citizens.
The initial response begs the question as to whether more consumers are recognising that they play a pivotal role in the protection against external threats, but there’s still some way to go in sharing the responsibility.