What do Australians think about data privacy?
According to the Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2020, half of all Australians feel their privacy was more at risk generally during the pandemic. However, most are comfortable with personal information being shared to combat COVID-19 – but they expect this information to be well protected.
Misuse is a major concern
The survey also found that 87% of Australians want more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal data1. When asked what they considered misuse of data, 84% said it was when their personal data is used in ways that cause harm, loss or distress1. A similar proportion said it’s when their personal data is used for reasons other than why it was collected1.
As many as 62% also said they’re uncomfortable with businesses tracking their location through their web browser or mobile phone, with half considering it as one of the biggest privacy risks1.
Protecting consumers’ privacy makes sound business sense
Trust and reputation are significant assets and are hard to re-establish once lost. One way businesses and governments can earn customers’ trust is by making it easier for them to have more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal data. This means their efforts must go beyond just fulfilling regulatory requirements.
Five ways to protect your customers’ privacy and earn their trust
1. Capturing data
The golden rule is to only request information you genuinely need and for a specific purpose. Reducing the amount of data collected lowers the risk of inappropriate disclosure. At a minimum, there should be clear and easy opt in and opt out procedures.
2. Storing data
Privacy needs to be a preventative measure. Virus and malware solutions need to be up to date, and a data retention procedure should be in place for securely destroying data that’s no longer needed or when consent is revoked.
3. Sharing data
Businesses and governments link and match data sets from third party sources to develop a richer understanding of customer profiles and behaviour. This makes Australians wary. The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey found that although 35% of Australians are comfortable with governments sharing their personal information with other government agencies, just 19% are comfortable with businesses doing the same1.
4. Ensuring informed consent
Most expressed the need for privacy policies that are easier to understand, use simple language, offer a plain English summary and use icons as visual prompts1.
5. Writing clear privacy agreements
Your privacy agreements should be able to answer the following customer questions:
- Why is the data being collected and by who?
- Who else will have access to it? Will it be sold to another party?
- How will it be stored, transmitted, and accessed?
- Can law enforcement agencies or public authorities access it under specific circumstances?
- How can I opt out or have the data removed?
By applying these five privacy tips at every stage – from product development and marketing to legal and human resources – you can create a framework where security is part of the DNA.