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Australian Privacy Index 2022: wary of online surveillance, consumers demanding full transparency and control over their data

23 June 2022:  Australian consumers remain wary of online surveillance in their digital interactions with brands – their demands for greater transparency, and control over use of their personal information, and what is being personalised to them online, is greater than ever.

The 2022 edition of the Deloitte Australian Privacy Index finds that providing transparency, assurance and control can go some way to alleviating consumers’ concerns.

Key results from Deloitte’s eighth annual assessment of consumer views on privacy, and the privacy practices of leading Australian consumer brands, include:

Transparency and sharing of information

  • Only 43% of consumers are happy to share their personal information (even when aware of how their data will be used)
  • Only 2% of brands are disclosing potential data sharing, online tracking, or other specific uses of data during the customer experience at sign-up, outside of the privacy policy.

Online surveillance and location data

  • 74% of consumers think companies they interact with online collect browsing information about their online activities – and 83% of brands appear to conduct online tracking and monitoring activities (as disclosed within their privacy policies)
  • 51% are uncomfortable with their online activity being tracked – and 82% are unhappy with their location data being shared with other companies

Personalised online experiences

  • 80% of consumers see value in online personalisation, but only 30% are happy with their current personalisation experiences
  • Only younger consumers (aged 18-34) see value in online personalisation – those aged 35+ see it, in the absence of transparency, as going too far
  • Over 54% of brands offer no tangible incentive to consumers in exchange for creating an account, beyond access to services.

Deloitte National Privacy and Data Protection Lead Partner, Daniella Kafouris, said

"Consumers have gone about surviving the last two years defined by COVID, but they’ve shared more personal data than ever before – with governments and businesses – in exchange for various freedoms and access to products and services."

“Working, learning, buying and even entertaining from home and online has significantly shifted the dial in positive and perhaps not-so-positive ways – from consumers benefiting from greater personalisation in their digital experiences, to genuine concerns about how their data is used."

“What is clear is that a disconnect remains between consumer expectations and how brands collect and use personal data. As a result, there needs to be a better balance between consumers finding personalisation helpful and what could be considered over-reaching."

“Many can see value in profiling and personalisation delivered by tracking and advertising technologies, but it’s also not for everyone. Generally, people under 35 see more value in tailored advertising and services compared to those over 35. As we looked through older age brackets, we found that increasingly more consumers perceive personalised experiences as crossing what we call a ‘creepy line’ that hinders the customer experience and, by extension, a brand’s ability to build trust and engage with them."

“Brands certainly need to take their customers on a transparency journey throughout the customer experience, rather than relying on legal documents like their privacy policy, to builds trust before things get ‘creepy’ and, ultimately, counter-productive and even damaging.”

The report outlines five key actions brands can take to improve their performance across data, transparency and personalisation:

  1. Increase transparency - Provide transparent disclosures about the way personal information is used throughout the customer journey, beyond the privacy policy and collection statements, to improve consumer trust.
  2. Be consistent - Use consistent language to describe online tracking and monitoring activities and clearly define this across industries, to avoid consumer confusion. Consumers want a personalised experience, not a creepy one.
  3. Set privacy as the default - Consumers have shown us that they are unlikely to actively make changes to their setting yet are unhappy with their location information being used and shared. Default settings involving the collection and use of location information should protect the privacy of the individual.
  4. Empower consumers - Optimise preference centres to enable consumers to provide their preferences for personalisation directly, establishing a connection between the personalisation they receive and the personal information they have shared to reduce the creepy factor.
  5. Communicate privacy protections - Consumers told us that the security of their personal information is the leading factor when considering sharing that information with a brand.