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  • Smartphone users (63%) are willing to manage their own personal data
  • The majority (76%) now actively protecting their personal data
  • 66% of those studied have experienced some form of data-related harm
  • Only 27% of respondents actually feel in control of their personal data

20th November 2018, London and New York: There has been a sharp increase in the number of consumers protecting their personal data. The first six months of 2018 saw 26% of global smartphone users starting to protect their identity and personal information for the first time.

Now, no longer passive spectators in personal data, in total 76% of smartphone users are actively spending time and effort trying to secure their information. This comes in response to a landmark year, where high-profile data leaks rocked consumer trust and at the same time the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force.

This new era in personal data management and protection has been identified in the fifth annual Global Consumer Trust Study from global trade body Mobile Ecosystem Forum, whose report launched today in association with Assurant.

Smartphone users place importance on privacy (72%) and knowledge of how their personal data is used (68%). They are also concerned that data collection puts them at risk (57%). As a result, many consumers (69%) didn’t download an app due to excessive permission requests, while two-thirds (63%) didn’t complete a purchase on their smartphone due to trust issues.

With new data protection laws now in force in Europe and data privacy legislation under review in all of the 10-markets studied, the study carried out by On Device Research on behalf of MEF, found nearly all smartphone users (97%) now believe they have legal rights around their personal data, although many are less clear precisely what those rights are. Since GDPR came into force, 62% of European respondents have noticed changes providers have made due to the legislation.

63% of the 6,500 smartphone users studied are willing to manage their own personal data and are demanding solutions that put them in control. However, despite this sea change in consumer attitude and behaviour, only 27% of respondents actually feel in control of their personal data, while 36% do not feel they have a choice when terms and conditions demand access to personal data. There is a clear discrepancy, as users value their privacy, but do not yet feel in charge.

On average, consumers are adopting less than three of twelve suggested privacy protection actions. This fragmentation indicates that users are still considering multiple options, with no clear set of best practices available.

Report author, Dario Betti, said: “The collective impact of personal data scandals and new data privacy laws tipped smartphone users to reconsider what to do with their personal data. Finally, a clear majority of users are trying to protect their data.”

“The industry needs to help with market education. Users are still finding their feet, testing out different and often rather unsophisticated actions. It is the right time for the industry to invest and educate on best practices. Today, the users are keen to take action.”

Craig Thole, VP Product, Assurant, the underwriter of this year’s MEF Study, concurred: “For decades Assurant has been in the business of helping people protect what matters most. Today, what matters most to people is their ability not just to stay connected, but to do so with more control. People are looking to obtain value and convenience from their digital life, without losing their privacy and security. Moreover, they value working with public and private institutions they can trust.”

Rimma Perelmuter, MEF’s CEO concluded: “For the last five years MEF’s Global Consumer Trust Study has been at the forefront of the personal data debate, offering a year-on-year benchmark of consumers’ changing behaviours and essential insights on how to reverse the current trust deficit. In a landmark year of unprecedented public scrutiny and data protection overhaul, MEF’s 2018 Study represents an urgent call to action to fundamentally redefine the consumer journey and offer individuals clearer transparency, control and value — ultimately empowering individuals to benefit from their data and build trust in technology.”

Download the Global Consumer Trust Report 2018

Conducted for MEF by On Device Research in association with Assurant, MEF’s Global Consumer Trust Report 2018 examines the attitudes and actions of 6,500 smartphone users across ten countries regarding personal data and privacy.

Now in its fifth year, the Global Consumer Trust Report 2018 shows a marked change in consumer behaviour, and a clear opportunity for the industry to drive best practices in data protection and management.

Download the report now