70% of Australians rank privacy a top concern

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 25 September, 2020

70% of Australians rank privacy a top concern

Nearly nine in 10 (87%) Australians want more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal information, according to research commissioned by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS) 2020 also found that 70% of Australians rank privacy as a major concern.

But community expectations of privacy are not being met, as demonstrated by the finding that 59% of Australians had a problem with how their data was used over the past year. Examples included unwanted marketing communications and information being collected when it was not required.

The survey found that Australians are also increasingly questioning data practices where the purpose for collecting personal information is unclear, with 81% considering it a misuse for an organisation to ask for information that doesn't seem relevant to the purpose of the transaction.

Privacy is also increasingly becoming a leading consideration — ahead of even quality, convenience and price — while selecting an app or program to download.

This suggests that businesses will be increasingly under pressure to meet consumers’ privacy expectations to continue growing their customer base.

“Privacy controls and practices that live up to community expectations will create the trust and confidence that is needed for the public to engage and make data-driven solutions a success,” Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said.

A particularly sensitive issue is children’s privacy, with 82% of respondents believing that children’s data privacy must be protected when they use online services.

Meanwhile the public is also calling for clearer privacy policies to help them manage their privacy, with 85% reporting that they have a clear understanding of why they should protect their personal information but 49% reporting that they don’t know how to achieve this.

“Our research shows Australians want to be protected against harmful practices, and 84% believe personal information should not be used in ways that cause harm, loss or distress,” Falk said.

“The report has clear signals for businesses collecting personal information about how to build consumer trust and confidence in their privacy and data handling practices.”

Falk said the OAIC will use the findings of the new survey to inform its regulatory priorities for the coming years, as well as its ongoing review into whether the Privacy Act remains fit for purpose for the coming decade.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/md3d

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