Consumers are losing hope in business’ privacy abilities

An IBM study shows that security and data sharing are major concerns, but Canadians are skeptical about if they'll be solved.
Locking A Virtual Lock In A Lineup Of Open Locks

The majority of Canadian consumers are thinking more about their data privacy when deciding which apps to use and retailers to buy from, according to a recent survey. But those same consumers also feel it is “unrealistic” to think companies would be able to keep their info safe and secure.

The report by IBM is based on a survey of 2,203 Canadian adults conducted by Morning Consult.

According to the survey, 83% of Canadians feel businesses should be doing more to protect consumers against cybersecurity threats; however, 65% feel it is unrealistic to expect personal information to be completely secure, while 71% feel it is impossible to use modern technology without giving up the privacy of their personal data. Also, 25% of Canadians said they don’t either way if they’ve ever had their personal data hacked or stolen.

What’s more, 73% of Canadians don’t know who controls the data that is collected about them, and there’s isn’t more than a 5% difference in the level of trust they’d place in different organizations to do so responsibly, be they banks, health care providers or social media companies. Only 19% of respondents said they fully trust organizations to keep their personal information secure and not share it without permission.

“We are moving into what is known as a ‘trust economy’,” said Ayman Antoun, president of IBM Canada. “Canadians are becoming more aware of which businesses are placing a higher priority on the privacy and security of personal information. Responsible stewardship of data must be at the core of technology innovation.”

Privacy concerns are becoming a bigger factor in purchase decisions, especially as those decisions are increasingly made in apps and on ecommerce platforms. Across all age groups, 55% of Canadians are more concerned this year than last about personal information being compromised while holiday shopping online, while 52% of Canadians say those concerns have made them more hesitant to do so this year.

The report also suggests that as age increases, so do concerns about how data is used. Among those between 18 and 29, 57% are fine with companies sharing their information if they tell them about it in advance, while 30% are fine with businesses sharing their personal information without telling them, and 29% are okay with their data being sold to other companies. Fifty-five percent approve of their information being used to develop and improve technologies.compared to 44% of those 30 and older.

But among those 30 and older, 44% are okay with companies sharing their information if they tell them about it in advance. Zeroing in further on baby boomers, there’s even more reluctance to sharing data: only 17% would be okay with data being shared without their knowledge, and only 13% said they are open to their data being sold. Boomers are also 10% more likely than younger generations to read the fine print to understand how their data could be used, and 10% less likely to buy from a business again – no matter how great their products are – if they share their information without permission.