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TRUSTe-Smartphone-User-Attitudes-to-Ad-Tracking-Sept2013About 7 in 10 smartphone users are aware that advertisers track their mobile activities in order to deliver targeted ads based on their behavior. Of this group, a resounding 69% said they don’t like it, with only a fraction in favor, per new study results [download page] from TRUSTe. The study paints a picture of a concerned smartphone owner, with 78% of adult application users saying they won’t download an app they don’t trust. The study comes on the heels of research from Pew indicating that around half of teen app users have avoided apps due to privacy concerns.

The TRUSTe study suggests that smartphone owners (aged 18 and up) are hesitant to share personal data. Only 38% said they definitively would exchange some data for a free or lower-cost application, compared to 43% who would not do so. The remaining 19% were on the fence.

Nevertheless, the share of respondents willing to share some data in exchange for a free or lower-cost app has increased from 31% last year, while the proportion not willing to do so has dropped by 6% points.

Perhaps it depends on the type of information in question. When asked what information they would consent to sharing with mobile apps, a leading 53% indicated gender, with age (44%) and email address (39%) next. Just 1% would share their contact information, and only about 1 in 10 concurred with respect to sharing their web surfing behavior (12%) and location (11%). Fully 24% of respondents would not share any of the 11 data types listed.

In terms of the activities that frequently lead to privacy concerns, smartphone owners most commonly cited banking online (63% indicating they are frequently or always concerned), followed by online shopping (60%) and using social networks (51%).

Other Findings:

  • 18% of respondents are more concerned with privacy on their smartphone than their computer, while 34% are more concerned with their computer than their smartphone. The figures indicate a greater degree of concern on smartphones than last year.
  • In terms of their primary mobile app concerns, smartphone users cited battery life (46%) first, with personal privacy (22%) more of a concern than brand (9%) or screen size (9%).
  • 76% of respondents hold themselves most responsible for protecting their privacy. Only 16% trust all apps, with users commonly checking to see if the app has a privacy policy (40%) and researching the app online (39%).

About the Data: The study is based on a survey conducted by Harris Interactive among more than 700 US smartphone owners from June 12-19, 2013.

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