There is a growing level of concern among Aussies over the privacy and protection of personal data since the start of the pandemic, new research from OpenText reveals.
The survey findings demonstrate an overall lack of knowledge about what specific data is stored, and for what reason, as well as a lack of trust in how organisations store and manage that data. T
he key to restoring that trust lies in better information governance and protection, combining a robust Enterprise Information Management strategy with multi-layered security and data protection that provides greater assurance and delivers an information advantage.
With pandemic life over the last two plus years being accompanied by the widespread adoption of remote working, a general shift to doing everyday activities online, the frequency of recent cyberattacks and government rollout of digital solutions such as the COVIDSafe app, Aussies are becoming more wary of those that have access to their personal data. So much so that almost three quarters (74%) say they have new concerns about how organisations are using their data since the pandemic began.
Such is the strength of these concerns that almost half (49%) say they'd no longer use or buy from a company they were previously loyal to if it failed to protect or leaked their personal data. In addition, almost two thirds (64%) would be willing to pay more to use or buy from an organisation that was expressly committed to protecting personal data.
As the world emerges from the worst of the global health crisis, Aussies are increasingly concerned about how their data is being managed and protected in this new normal. In fact, more than three quarters (77%) worry more about their personal data now that organisations operate distributed work models, with more than two in five (46%) expecting those organisations to ensure everything is secure, no matter where their employees work from.
On top of that, now that the use of apps such as state-managed QR check-ins are no longer mandatory, close to three in 10 Aussies (28%) are concerned their data wont be deleted even when its not needed to combat COVID-19.
"Since the pandemic took hold in early 2020, consumers concerns around where and how their personal data is being used is on the rise," says Sandy Ono, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at OpenText.
"We are also now living in a time of unprecedented regulatory change with stringent data privacy regulations growing and evolving rapidly around the world," she says.
"While the need to protect personal information has become mission critical across all industry sectors and brings multiple compliance challenges, it also presents an opportunity. In protecting customers data, organisations can safeguard customer trust, ensure continued brand loyalty, and in so doing deliver an information advantage."
Data privacy clearly matters to consumers, even though just over a third (37%) don't actually know what specific data is used, stored, and accessed by organisations. Nonetheless, close to two in three (64%) said they would pay more for a company or third party to keep their information safe an increase on the 44% who said the same in a similar OpenText survey conducted in March 2020.
This is perhaps unsurprising given that just one in six Aussies (17%) have complete trust in all the organisations they interact with to keep their data safe while almost half (49%) trust the ability of some companies. Importantly, of course, loyalty depends on trust.
Once a customers trust is broken, so too is their loyalty to a brand. More than a third of consumers (37%) would no longer use or buy from a company they were previously loyal to if it failed to respond to a privacy access request under the Australian Privacy Act including among others the right of access, the right of rectification and the right of erasure while almost half (48%) would no longer use or buy from a company if it shared their personal data with third parties for anything other than its specified purpose.
A growing awareness of the laws surrounding data privacy and protection means businesses cant afford to play fast and loose with consumers data. Almost three in five (58%) Australian consumers say they have a vague idea about data privacy laws a significant increase on the 34 per cent at the start of the pandemic.
Interestingly, however, the number of Aussies who profess to being very aware of the laws that protect their data privacy has decreased over the last couple of years from 36 per cent in early 2020 to 30 per cent in 2022. This suggests that, while there may be better general knowledge around data privacy laws, more education is required around specific rules and regulations.
Encouragingly, and perhaps prompted by this growing awareness and, indeed, the lack of trust in organisations, three in four (76%) consumers know how to keep their data secure on the apps, email accounts, and social media accounts they use. Despite this, though, only one in three (32%) will regularly check to ensure they are following best practice for keeping their data private and secure, e.g. switching on privacy settings, turning off geolocation, etc.
"Customer loyalty is paramount in modern business and its clear data privacy and protection goes a long way in ensuring that loyalty," adds George Harb, Vice President Australia and New Zealand at OpenText.
"Organisations can ensure data protection effectively with the use of Enterprise Information Management solutions that aid businesses with their compliance requirements.
"Businesses need to foster an integrated, data-centric approach to information governance and privacy management by leveraging discovery and classification tools to mitigate risks associated with the way they handle privacy and sensitive data and securing content with stronger classification and retention capabilities," he says.
"In today's post-pandemic world, organisations must unlock their information advantage, to protect their customers information and, in doing so, allay their concerns and retain their trust."