NEWS9 October 2014

Two thirds of device owners have ‘no idea’ who is accessing their data

News North America Privacy

US — The majority of American device owners don’t know who has access to the data from their devices or how it is used, according to a new survey.

84% of Americans believe that some kind of data about them or from their devices is being collected and sold to third parties, yet half are unable to correctly identify the definition of ‘anonymised’ data. These findings come from a survey of 2,018 US adults conducted by Harris Poll during September 2014.

45% of respondents said they are more concerned about privacy for wearable devices than about privacy for smartphones, tablets and PCs. However, when given a specific benefit to sharing data, respondents showed willingness to do so if it was anonymised: nearly 60% of device owners who are parents said they would be open to sharing their children’s anonymised educational data to improve graduation rates or school systems, and 57% of device owners said they would share health data to aid medical research, if sensitive information was excluded. Millennials were more inclined to share data for a direct benefit, but showed greater concern for keeping text messages and photos private compared to health data.

“Innovation will be hindered due to an underlying mistrust among people about what businesses know about them and how they’re using that information,” said Malcolm Harkins, vice president and chief security and privacy officer for Intel during a recent keynote speech.

“If we want to spur innovation and realise the true potential of big data to solve the world’s greatest challenges, technology leaders and organisations have to assume responsibility for establishing transparent business practices, designing privacy-enhancing technologies, and encouraging legislation that helps instill trust.”