European consumers are uncomfortable with the amount of personal data that service providers hold, and worry about “hidden harvesting”, according to the third instalment of Orange’s The Future of Digital Trust research.
The study found 82 per cent of consumers are concerned that companies find more ways to gather data without being completely clear about the methods and reasons for it, which was described as hidden harvesting. In addition, 78 per cent of smartphone owners are convinced that even everyday mobile internet usage means personal information is being gathered beyond their control.
More education is needed to make consumers aware of what they are giving consent to, such as contacts, images, messages and location information. And companies need to be clear on how they use that data, Orange found.
Clearly this is not happening at present, since only 38 per cent of respondents state they are generally happy with how their data is used to target them with goods and services. And nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) have personal experience of a company taking advantage of their data to use it for something not pre-agreed.
The company argues for an infusion for transparency, user control and education before distrust and resistance sets in, and ultimately usage is reduced.
Two previous instalments of the report were released in 2014, and strike a similar tone. An erosion of trust among consumers, as well as an awareness of the value of personal data, were key themes.
The research was carried out by research agency Loudhouse among mobile phone owners in UK, France, Spain and Poland (all markets where Orange operates).