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Consumers blind about their data — and want Uncle Sam and businesses blind too

Categories Biometrics News  |  Trade Notes
Consumers blind about their data — and want Uncle Sam and businesses blind too

A survey conducted in several of the major Western technology economies illustrates how consumers have abdicated control over their data while simultaneously grown cynical about how businesses and government use it.

The survey commissioned by Okta Inc., writer of cloud-based authentication software, and conducted by Juniper Research, was in the field during the first several weeks of the coronavirus outbreak. It would appear that the same respondents who do not know what is happening with their data do not want it used by anyone to ameliorate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responses to questionnaires came in from the United States, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Australia.

Among the more startling findings is that large segments of U.S. consumers do not believe that online businesses monitor their purchases. Half believe that social media platforms are watching their social media posts.

Perhaps as disconcerting is that 65 percent of U.S. consumers say they know there are efforts afoot to contain COVID-19 infections by analyzing phone data. It would be one thing if they were aware and at least somewhat supportive of disease control measures, but that is not the case.

Fifty-three percent of U.S. respondents are not sure they want to lose any privacy even if it means containing the virus by tracking its path. Another 62 percent are not even sure if they want consumer data used to help decide when communities can safely re-open.

Almost three-quarters of those returning a survey do not want businesses or governments to track people closely enough to enforce social distancing.

It would seem that even if the U.S. government were able to ride into rescue its citizens from disease or other threats, it would find the stockade gate barred.

Juniper reports that 70 percent of U.S. citizens are not comfortable with their government tracking their data. Would they lend a digital hand to law enforcement? Mostly no. More than three-quarters of respondents said they would not share with the police.

Forty-five percent said they are uneasy with the thought of the U.S. government, once the gold standard in terms of finding the optimal solutions to scourges like pandemics, being involved with data tracking to minimize COVID-19’s destruction.

Could a solid brand win consumers over? Again, mostly no. Forty-one percent said they are never comfortable with companies collecting their data. Older Americans, ages 65 years and older say no way 56 percent of the time. One-third of the youngest adults — 18 years to 24 years — felt the same way.

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