Smartphone Users Express More Comfort with Data Privacy, but Remain Concerned

July 19, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer-Centric | Data-driven | Digital | Industries | Mobile Phone | Privacy & Security | Retail & E-Commerce | Social Media

Smartphone users around the world are more confident in the privacy of their data, according to the 8th Annual Trust Study from the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF). Based on a survey of 6,500 smartphone users in 10 markets, the report finds that 44% agree that mobile apps and services fully respect their privacy, up from 39% last year.

Likewise, 44% agree to some extent (strongly or slightly) that they are in complete control of how their data is used by mobile apps/services, with this being up from 38% last year. There has also been a rise in the percentage who agree that mobile apps and services keep their personal data completely secure, from 39% to 44%.

This does mean, however, that only a minority are confident in control of their data and the security of their data. Indeed, more than half (54%) agree that technology advances are making their personal data less secure, and 61% agree that they’re concerned about the amount of data that mobile apps and services collect about them. Likely as a result, 61% also agree that they avoid sharing personal information online.

In fact, last year a survey by Tinuiti of 2,000 US consumers found that 8 in 10 (79%) think their phone listens in on their conversations and makes product recommendations accordingly.

Meanwhile, smartphone users expressed the least amount of confidence in social media companies with respect to transparency in data use, with mobile apps/services companies and government the next-least trusted. Within the US, government was the least trusted, followed by social media companies.

In order to protect personal data, 40% of respondents in the past year have used a one-time SMS passcode to verify their ID. About 3 in 10 have stopped/cleared cookies or browsing history (31%) or changed their mobile privacy settings (31%), with each of these up by 3% points from last year.

These actions do contribute to some increased comfort: one-quarter (24%) said they feel a lot safer with respect to the security and privacy of their data as a result of taking action, while another half (52%) feel slightly safer.

Nonetheless, smartphone users are reporting increased experiences of data harm. Some 45% have received unsolicited messages/spam, up from 39% last year. There have also been large increases in the percentages reporting fraudulent emails aiming to collect sensitive data (37%, up from 29%) and fraudulent texts aiming to collect sensitive data (36%, up from 25%).

Across the 10 countries, respondents reported an average of 3.1 harms experienced, a figure that rose to 3.5 among US respondents.

In other highlights from the survey:

  • 62% of respondents are using their mobile more as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, though that figure is lower in the US (53%).
  • 1 in 3 (33%) express concern over their payment details being stolen when making payments via mobile, and concerns have risen across the board with respect to mobile payments.

About the Data: The markets covered in the survey are Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, UK, and USA.

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