Virtually all (97 percent) of American consumers believe that data privacy is important to them, with 87 percent characterizing it as a human right—but they are deeply suspicious of what companies are doing with their data, according to new research from professional services firm KPMG.
U.S. consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with—and distrustful of—how companies use, manage and protect their personal data. According to the survey, 56 percent of Americans reported wanting more control over their personal data, and insisted that both corporations and government must play an active role in protecting consumer data. Meanwhile, 68 percent don’t trust companies to ethically sell personal data, and 54 percent don’t trust companies to use personal data in an ethical way.
“With consumers indicating that they see data privacy as a human right, and new legislation expected in the years ahead, it is critical that companies begin to mature privacy programs and policies,” said Orson Lucas, principal at KPMG Cyber Security Services, in a news release. “Consumer demands for the ethical use of data and increased control over their own data must be a core consideration in developing data privacy policies and practices.
Even though respondents indicated that data privacy is important to them, most Americans still engage in online behaviors they consider risky. The survey found that:
- About 75 percent of Americans say they consider it risky to use the same password for multiple accounts, use public Wi-Fi, or save a card to a website or online store. Yet, more than 40 percent engage in those behaviors.
- While 65 percent of Americans reported avoiding opening email attachments from unknown senders, only 31 percent install mobile device security software and 20 percent use their own virtual private network (VPN) when possible.
“Part of the challenge for corporations will be getting employees and customers to do their part in protecting their own data,” said Steve Stein, principal at KPMG Cyber Security Services, in the release. “Developing defensible notices with understandable language and data protection controls that guide employees and consumers have to be embedded in the data security agenda.”
What consumers think corporations should prioritize for CSR agendas in 2020:
While most survey respondents indicated that consumers themselves have a responsibility to protect consumer data, even more want the government and companies to play a role. The research found that:
- Nine in 10 Americans insist companies (91 percent) and the government (90 percent) have a responsibility to protect consumer data
- Almost all (91 percent) agree the following data privacy rights of the California Consumer Privacy Act should be extended to all U.S. Citizens: the right to delete personal data, and the right to know how their data is being used
- More than nine in 10 Americans say companies should put data privacy guidelines and policies in place, be held responsible for corporate data breaches, take corporate data responsibility seriously, and take the lead in establishing corporate data responsibility.
To be able to provide consumers with increased control over their data, businesses should consider leveraging data discovery and protection tools, and exploring novel uses of blockchain, and artificial intelligence. These technologies can help organizations better track the source of their data, assure its accuracy, make it easily discoverable, protect it and build greater external visibility into the data being collected. In fact, according to a survey of 600 global technology executives conducted in late March/early April, KPMG found that improving cybersecurity and data privacy is one of the top four objectives for which their organizations are investing in emerging technologies such as process automation, smart analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
The findings in the report are based on the results from a survey of 1,000 respondents in the U.S. The sample was balanced to reflect national representation of age, race, gender and region. The online survey was fielded between May 19, 2020, and May 21, 2020.