Australians concerned about how personal information may be misused: OAIC

Australians concerned about how personal information may be misused: OAIC

An overwhelming majority of Australians view appropriation of information as misuse

A recent study has uncovered that 97 per cent of Australians are not comfortable about their personal information being collected for one reason but used for another.

The 2013 Community Attitudes to Privacy survey, sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Henry Davis York and McAfee, is a longitudinal study by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) into the use of personal information.

McAfee Asia Pacific data loss prevention and privacy lead, Joel Camissar, said this result is significant for local businesses, particularly with the upcoming changes to the Australian Privacy Act in March next year.

“This research shows that Australian consumers are becoming more privacy savvy and aware, and are placing more value on their digital footprint,” he said.

Camissar said that the result also serves as a “wakeup call” for Australian businesses aiming to secure customer loyalty.

“The research findings suggest the need for organisations to effectively communicate the measures they take to protect their customers’ valuable personal information,” he said.

The customer’s voice

Another key result in the survey was one in three Australians complaining about the way their personal information was handled in the last year.

“With trust such a key element in the customer service relationship, there is a competitive advantage for businesses who take the lead in being transparent in how they handle and protect their customers' personal information,” Camissar said.

When the study was last conducted in 2007, 13 per cent of Australians went direct to the business responsible for a suspected data breach, and that number has now grown to 29 per cent.

“It is clear that businesses who take consumer privacy seriously moving forward will benefit by aligning their business processes to customer expectations,” Camissar said.

While three quarter of Australians do not want organisations monitoring and storing their online activity for later use, half admitted to not reading privacy policies because they are either too long, complicated or boring.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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