Data Privacy

Businesses need to ‘mind the trust gap’ so users don’t need to sacrifice privacy, MEF Global Consumer Trust Survey finds

The new Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) Consumer Trust Study is a siren call for businesses to ‘mind the trust gap’ and help users take control of their personal data.

The report, MEF’s seventh, explores the smartphone and digital services usage of 6,500 smartphone users across 10 countries and considers their attitudes in relation to privacy, personal data and trust.

With a report strapline of ‘It’s time to serve the individual’, it reveals that the industry is falling short of expectations across key privacy and security elements despite increasing numbers of users taking action to protect themselves. Ultimately, it finds, consumer expectations of privacy and security are not being met.

Key findings from the report are:

  • Users sacrifice privacy and security for access to valued services
  • Smartphone users begin to sense improvement in the mobile environment
  • More and more users take protective steps, but remain exposed to harm
  • Protective actions do not necessarily drive confidence
  • Cost, knowledge and perceived complexity are key barriers
  • Transparency and control are key values for users

The report says that there is a significant gulf between what is perceived to be important about data privacy and security, and what is delivered. Privacy and security are rated as very or extremely important by two-thirds of respondents, yet these needs are not being met. This is widest for women, and those aged over 45.

In terms of sharing personal data for benefits, nearly half (43 per cent), believe they get a good deal – but this leaves over half who need to be convinced.

The cost of low trust, the research finds, is users deleting or avoiding apps. However, in brighter news, over two in five of those surveyed (43 per cent) do think options to keep personal data private while on the internet have improved over the past year. And those asked are far more likely to trust themselves to manage their data, rather than any external organisation.

Overall, in order to feel more confident about sharing personal data, greater transparency and ease are key.

From this insight, MEF has drawn together some key lessons for industry. These are:

  • Communicate positive changes on security and privacy
  • Build trust with different strategies
  • Design better customer experiences
  • Promote impartial guidance
  • Use the opportunity to differentiate on trust