Just as smartphones have upped the ante on what can be achieved in terms of content, services and customer interactivity, the accessibility, importance and value of mobile user data has snowballed. Businesses now build commercial strategies based on hundreds of points of measurement or data-capture – the personal data economy.

In tandem, the forthcoming (May 2018) EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) expands the personal data rights of EU citizens. Among other things, it requires that all data processors – most companies – maintain adequate data records, disclose data breaches and increase opt-out options. Consumers must give permission before any data is collected. Data must be transferrable and it must be deleted or returned upon request.

But how do consumers feel about the data that is collected about them via the mobile apps and services that they use? MEF’s 4th annual Consumer Trust Study (which surveyed 6,500 smartphone users in 10 countries) explores consumer behaviours and attitudes in the personal data economy. 75% say they sometimes or always read a privacy policy for example.

Here are 12 other key personal data take-aways from the report.

  1. Transparency is a growing concern. More than half (53%) said it was extremely important to know that an app or service is using their personal data. 69% consider it important overall – five percentage points higher than the 2016 findings.

When I’m gone, I’m gone

  1. GDPR mandates the ability for consumers to request that their personal data be deleted (AKA the right to be forgotten). MEF’s research suggests that this protection will be welcomed. 61% said it was extremely important a company deletes personal data when you ask it to.
  1. Users of certain types of services are more likely to want the right to be forgotten. 69% of those that use their mobile to carry out banking activities, for example, say it’s extremely important that a company delete their data upon request.
  1. 70% of those that say it’s extremely important to delete data also say they’re concerned that personal information might be shared without permission.

What’s the worry?

  1. When users were asked the exact nature of their concerns, two responses stood out: security (49%) and privacy (48%).
  1. Consumers also have concerns over identity. 32% indicated that they can’t be sure whether or not the provider is who they say they are.
  1. When asked which data-related scenario they fear the most. Identity theft is front of mind: almost half (47%) naming it as their main concern.
  1. More than half (55%) name financial details as the most sensitive data type, photos/videos (39%) are a distant second, with personal contact information (38%) in third.

Consumers want control

  1. Regulators want to ensure that consumers are fully informed and in total control of the way their data is used. Yet just 9% say they are always asked for permission and make a conscious choice about how their data is used.
  2. Conversely 53% consider they are not in control of the way their data is used. Of these, 39% agree with the statement: ‘I know that by agreeing to the terms and conditions I am giving permission, but I don’t feel I have a choice’.
  1. In 2017 the number of people who said they are always happy to share personal information halved from 6-3%.
  1. Conversely, 39% said they never share data – demonstrating a lack of understanding of the data collection practices of mainstream apps and services.

The MEF Global Consumer Trust Report 2017

The 4th annual MEF Consumer Trust Study is part of MEF’s Consumer Trust Initiative established in 2011, a multi-stakeholder working group united by a commitment to drive best practice and innovation when it comes to consumer data and is part of the group’s ongoing education programme to raise awareness of the importance of privacy, security and identity.

The 50 page report includes charts and analysis looking at:

  • Drivers and impact of trust in the mobile ecosystem
  • Behaviours, attitudes and motivations when it comes to personal data and key data protection principles
  • Consumer appetite for data-driven products and services
  • Country comparisons

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