Number of consumers concerned over use of data falls, report says

Digital trends survey also indicates drop in use of social media

The number of consumers in Ireland concerned over the use of their data has fallen in the past three years, a new report has found. That decline comes despite indications that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how online companies use their data, Deloitte Ireland's latest Digital Consumer Trends report on trust and privacy found.

The report found concern among consumers in Ireland has more than halved to 25 per cent this year, from 54 per cent in 2018.

But it also indicated a drop in usage of social media services, with 42 per cent saying they had stopped using at least one platform in the past year, some permanently. Of those who had ditched the services, 23 per cent cited privacy as the key reason for their decision.

“Our fast-paced world is triggering a shift towards opting in and signing up; as a result, data sets are becoming far more granular, richer and more valuable to companies.

"While emerging privacy-focused technology and standards, as well as increased regulatory activity, have enhanced consumer awareness about the collection of their personal data, a lack of awareness about the use of that data persists," said John Kehoe, audit partner at Deloitte Ireland.

“Organisations have a powerful tool within their hands that can drive insights, create automated decision-making, produce highly personalised, targeted advertising and, essentially, build highly detailed profiles on consumers.

“The GDPR, along with emerging internet regulation and a focus on digital trust and safety, is paving the way to more privacy-centric thinking. We are witnessing a move away from ‘tick the box’ compliance with such regulations and a step closer to privacy culture: consumers understanding what benefits them when they share their data, but also realising that their data is invaluable and, as such, an economy.

“In this digital era, consumers want to share data with brands they trust and, for organisations, data privacy is becoming an increasingly important business enabler and brand differentiator,” Mr Kehoe said.

Details

Consumers were also largely willing to provide details on their vaccination status to gain access to services, with 72 per cent saying they were prepared to share information with airlines and travel companies and 67 per cent willing to do so to access entertainment facilities.

More than half, 58 per cent, said they were prepared to disclose the information to employers. Employers are not currently entitled to request this information.

More than three-quarters of those surveyed chose default cookie settings when prompted by a website at least half of the time, while just over a fifth use a specific browser that limits ad tracking at least half of the time.

Only a quarter of those surveyed were interested in receiving tailored ads, with younger age groups more likely to be in this cohort.

The majority – 87 per cent – of respondents said they have access to at least one connected device or appliance in their homes, with smart TVs the most popular, followed by video streaming devices and games consoles.

Deloitte’s annual survey explores consumers’ digital usage and attitudes towards technology, and was carried out between July and August 2021, surveying 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 75.