Do Smartphone Users Feel They Have Control Over Their Personal Data?

April 24, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories: Customer-Centric | Data-driven | Digital | Mobile Phone | Privacy & Security

MEF Smartphones and Data Privacy Apr2020Although smartphone app downloads have continued to grow globally, there are some smartphone users who have chosen not to purchase or install an app in an effort to remain in control of their personal data. The Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s (MEF) annual report [download page] on global consumer trust reveals that 70% of global smartphone users have at least once not purchased an app due to low trust and about three-quarters (76%) have chosen not to install an app for permissions reasons.

Indeed, the survey results indicate that a rising share of smartphone owners feel like they don’t have control over their data. A plurality (38%) of smartphone users surveyed last year said that, despite knowing that by agreeing to an app’s terms and conditions they are giving permission for that app to use their personal data, they feel as though they do not have a choice. This is up from 35% saying the same a year earlier.

And, while about 1 in 7 (14% share) say they were not aware that apps and services made use of their personal data, only 13% share say they feel in control as they have been asked for permission and have made a conscious choice about how their data is used. Another 13% share feel they have some choice about their data some of the time.

Although, in general, many brands acknowledge the importance of respecting customer data, 2019 saw more smartphone users making greater efforts than in the past to protect their data. Eight in 10 (83%) global respondents took one or more preventative actions to secure their data, compared to 76% in 2018.

So, what proactive actions are smartphone users taking? Close to one-quarter report that they have stopped/cleared cookies or their browsing history (23%) or changed privacy settings for apps and services (23%), while one-fifth (21%) say they have installed and used antivirus and malware software. Others have enabled multifactor authentication (19%), used a password manager (17%) and installed and used ad-blocking software (15%). Some users have even gone so far as to give fake personal information such as a fake name and email address (14%) or use a secondary or fake email to sign up (13%).

For those respondents who had concerns about their privacy or security, some took reactive measures including deleting an app/service (37%), stopping using a service (31%), warning others (28%), using a competing service (14%) or leaving a negative review (14%).

For more, the report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 6.500 smartphone users in the following 10 countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US.

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