Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

User concern over mobile privacy is growing: report

Compared with a year ago, 72 percent of smartphone users say they are more concerned about privacy on their smartphone, according to new research from Truste.

The 2013 U.S. Consumer Confidence Index also reveals that 81 percent of smartphone users avoid applications they believe do not protect their privacy. The results suggest that as awareness of mobile activities such as geotargeting grows, there is a greater need for companies to insure users know their personal information is safe.

?The big news is that the majority of consumers - over 70 percent - are more concerned about privacy on their smartphone than they were one year ago ? and their serious implications since over 80 percent of smartphone users indicate they will not use an app if they do not trust it,? said Dave Deasy, vice president of marketing at Truste.

?Since the majority of consumers are more concerned than they were one year ago, it clearly indicates the mobile industry has a lot of work to do reassuring consumers they can trust sharing their personal information,? he said.

?At the same time the data does not mean the industry is ignoring privacy, there are lots of companies who are taking data privacy management serious and proactively building privacy into their products. Part of the higher levels of concern is driven by the increased collection and use of personal information along with the increased awareness of these practices ? effectively raising the bar for what companies need to do in order to ensure consumers trust them with their personal information.?

Users want control
Today?s release of the report coincides with Data Privacy Day 2013, an international event designed to raise awareness data privacy issues and promote education.

With mobile commerce growing and smartphones expected to overtake PCs as the most popular way to get online, mobile privacy is increasingly a hot issue for consumers and legislators.

The report found that 89 percent of consumers worry about their privacy online at some point.

The most commonly cited activity that raises concern for consumers is shopping online - which 89 percent of respondents named. Additionally, 87 percent said using social networks is a concern, 86 percent banking online, 82 percent using email and 77 percent using mobile apps.

Other key findings include that 43 percent of respondents said they do not trust companies with their personal information online ? up two percent from the first quarter or last year. Also, 89 percent avoid doing business with companies they believe do not protect their online privacy, up one percent from last year.

Given the concern over privacy, it is not surprising that 94 percent of U.S. online adults want the ability to control who can collect their personal information and who can track their activities online.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and received responses from 2,166 U.S. adults between Jan. 7-9, 2013.

The implications
The growing concern over mobile privacy has potentially significant implications for companies, which risk losing business as well as possible fines.

To address these issues, businesses need to establish a data management strategy. This includes identifying all of the channels where they collect customer information; inventorying all of the information they collect, how it is used and who it is shared with; reviewing all of the relevant regulations; communicating privacy disclosures; continuously monitoring third party trackers, and managing consumer preferences for behavioral targeting and cookie usage.

?As consumers shift to mobile for more and more of their online usage, ranging from shopping to banking to reading online publications, companies are investing more and more of their marketing and product development budgets on mobile,? Mr. Deasy said.

?Most of these new mobile offerings rely heavily on the ability to collect personal information to target ads, personalize content, and customize features ? if consumers refuse to share their data, or as the research reflects elect not to download your app, you will suffer significant loss of business and ultimately hurt your bottom line,? he said.

?In addition to lost business and reduced consumer trust, businesses face fines if they do not comply with mobile privacy laws like CalOPPA and risk brand damage if they receive negative coverage in the media. The potential lost business, fines, and brand impact can vastly exceed the cost to build robust and consumer friendly data privacy management practices into their products up front.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York