December 07, 2020

CPRC 2020 Data and Technology Consumer Survey

New research finds Australian consumers want more control over their personal information and expect fair treatment

A Consumer Policy Research Centre survey of 1,000 consumers conducted from March – April this year confirmed Australians expect more from industry and government when it comes to protecting them from risks posed by the collection, sharing and use of their personal information.

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This report refreshes CPRC research findings from 2018 – and also expands the research scope to cover recent developments in data technology, collection, sharing and use.

Key findings from the 2020 survey include:

High use of, and reliance upon, data-driven products and services:

  • 70% of Australians use Google products or services daily, while 58% use Facebook daily.
  • 28% of 2020 survey respondents visited online shopping websites at least once a week, up from 21% in 2018.
  • Location apps and GPS devices were by far the most commonly used internet-connected devices (69% of consumers) – while smart assistants (32%) and exercise health trackers (24%) were also commonly used.

Most Australian consumers do not feel comfortable about how their personal information is handled

  • 94% of Australian consumers are uncomfortable with how their personal information is collected and shared online.
  • 88% of Australian consumers do not have a clear understanding of how their personal information is being collected and shared.
  • 85% of consumers consider it is unfair for companies to share personal information they’ve provided with other companies – while 90% think it is unfair for this information to be sold to other companies.
  • A large majority of consumers also find it unfair when companies collect more information than is necessary to deliver the product or service they are receiving (88%).
  • Consumers have high concerns about online safety issues, with concern highest regarding data breaches or hacks (94%), personal data being used for fraud or scams (93%) and children’s data being misused (92%).

Privacy Policies do not aid informed choices and do not provide consumers with genuine choice or control

  • In 2020, 94% of Australian consumers reported not reading all of the privacy policies or T&Cs that applied to them in the past 12 months
  • Of consumers who had read privacy policies, 69% reported accepting terms even though they weren’t comfortable with them – the main reason for doing so was it was the only way to access the product or service (75%)
  • Consumer engagement with Privacy Policies and T&Cs has not improved between 2018 and 2020. In both years one third (33%) of consumers told us they never read these documents, and 35% read them only for a few products/services

Australian consumers believe that government has an important responsibility to ensure that consumers are protected

  • 94% of consumers expected government to protect them against the collection and sharing of their personal information (67% high responsibility, 27% moderate responsibility);
  • 93% of consumers expected government to improve their understanding of how personal information may be collected and shared (67% high responsibility, 26% moderate responsibility);
  • 94% of consumers expected government to protect them from having their information being used in a way that makes them worse off (79% high responsibility, 15% moderate responsibility.

Urgent reforms to laws are required to protect consumers’ privacy and ensure their data is used safely and fairly

  • Consumer engagement with Privacy Policies and T&Cs has not improved in the past two years. At the same time, consumer discomfort and opposition regarding the data practices that Privacy Policies and T&Cs can permit has grown.
  • There is now a chasm between how consumers expect to be treated, and how they are currently treated, in digital marketplaces..
    COVID-19 has increased the urgent need for reforms to Australia’s consumer protections framework, so consumers aren’t relying on analogue safeguards in an increasingly digital world..
  • Reforms to consumer protections – such as unfair trading practice and contract term prohibitions, and a general safety provision, being added to Australian Consumer Law – as well as reforms to the Privacy Act, need to be progressed without delay. This will ensure
  • Australian consumers are properly protected, and help to drive greater trust and confidence in digital marketplaces.



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