Research: Australian consumers ‘soft targets’ in Big Data economy

Australian consumers feel uninformed, unprotected and powerless when it comes to Big Data, new research from Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) has found. 

Australian consumers feel uninformed, unprotected and powerless when it comes to Big Data, new research from Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) has found.

Surveying the digital behaviours of 1004 Australian consumers over the past 12 months, CPRC found that:

  • Only 6% had read the Privacy Policies or Terms and Conditions for all the products they signed up to.
  • Of those who read at least one Privacy Policy; two-thirds accepted terms with which they were uncomfortable. 73% of those who accepted did so because it was the only way to access the product or service.
  • 70% were uncomfortable with basic data, such as purchase histories and location data, being shared. Over 85% opposed personal information, such as phone contacts and messages, being shared.

Consistent with our early adoption of new technologies, Australians are big digital platform users with most respondents reporting use of Google suite (99%), online shopping websites (89%), mobile applications (89%), Facebook (81%), and Flybuys or Everyday Rewards supermarket loyalty cards (78%).

Australians want greater control over how their data is collected, shared and used.

CPRC’s study, conducted by Roy Morgan Research, found that among Australian consumers:

  • 95% wanted companies to provide opt-out options for data collection, while 91% wanted an option for data to be collected only for the purpose of delivering the product or service.

There was also a clear expectation that Governments will intervene to protect consumers:

  • 73% of those surveyed wanted companies to be required by regulation to give consumers opt-out capability over what data they provide, how it can be used, and if it can be shared.
  • 67% expected Government to develop protections to ensure that consumers are not unfairly excluded from essential products or services based on their data and/or profile.

Find the full summary of CPRC research findings here: 

CPRC Chief Executive Officer Lauren Solomon commented:

“Consumers desperately want greater transparency, choice and control over how their data is collected and used. Right now, it’s often a case of, ‘Take it or leave it. Agree to our terms or you get nothing.’ There’s a massive gap between public expectations and current practice.

“We’re seeing growing distrust because consumers feel that they simply have no choice. This lack of control was best characterised by one research participant who said, ‘I just close my eyes and don’t think about it.’ In the Australian digital economy genuine consent still seems like a fiction.”

“There’s a clear expectation for Government to take an active role in helping to protect consumer data. The establishment of a Consumer Data Right in Australia is a good step forward, but this alone is not the solution. A national conversation about how Big Data is fundamentally changing our markets is long overdue.”

National data conference
CPRC will bring together leading researchers, policymakers, regulators, and members of the business and community sectors for the query:data national data conference in Melbourne on 16 July 2018.

This survey of 1004 Australians was conducted for CPRC by Roy Morgan Research from March to April 2018.

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