Data Privacy

Privacy attitudes harden as consumers wake up

All the signs are that mass consumer awareness of the issues surrounding data privacy is finally reaching a tipping point that will force an economic consensus for action.

Already this year we have seen the re-writing of the Safe Harbour agreement, agreement for the GDPR in Europe (also affecting those who trade with us), the stand-off between Apple and the FBI over encryption and the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill in the UK.

Governments and businesses know more about us than ever – and consumers are fighting back. Over 200 million people now employ ad-blocking software, fed up with intrusive trackers that steal their data without their consent and affect their page loading speeds as well as taking up excessive bandwidth.

So it’s of little surprise that OpenXchange’s Consumer Openness Index 2016 shows a hardening of attitudes in the past 12 months.

The headline statistic is that people care about privacy more than ever before, with 80% of the 3,000 questioned believing everyone has a fundamental right to privacy.

The Internet-savvy populations questioned in the US, UK and Germany also said they are more likely to stop using many types of companies if news of a privacy scandal emerged, while those who believe that companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google should never have the right to share personal data is now up to 57%.

“Governments and corporations are gathering unfathomable amounts of information about the online lives of every individual,” said Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange. “As a result, it’s no surprise that across the world, people increasingly fear their personal data is exposed. Worse than that, recent studies have shown that people feel powerless to protect their data. But there is hope: there are signs that citizens believe that compromising their right to privacy can no longer be tolerated. They are asking for greater transparency in the services they use and the politicians they elect, and searching for solutions to protect themselves.”

Consumers are also demanding the ability to protect their data, as the majority (88%) would be interested in at least one encryption-related service, such as a one-click button that encrypts outgoing email or encryption as a standard feature of applications they use.

All of which is good news for the good ship privacy and all who believe in and sail in her.

This survey, and many others before it, reinforces the belief that underpins everything we do here at, that the current system is broken beyond repair and needs radical transformation. Neither users nor businesses get what they need from the current advertising model, and both sides are trading salvos in a war that shows every sign of escalating without the prospect of resolution.

We believe the only solution is a new way forward, a connected world centred on the individual in control of their own data, that businesses can then approach directly for access for rich data in return for something the user wants, in the form of an offer or personalised service.

This is what will be when our Permissioned Access model comes in later this year, and this move to the Internet of Me is so important that we are sponsoring an industry-wide forum to find the best solutions for all – you and the businesses you deal with; whoever, whatever and wherever they may be.

The future is bright, the future is you – and we look forward to helping and guiding you on that journey.