Do businesses prioritize profits over privacy rights? Despite increasing privacy legislation, more than 9 in 10 consumers think so

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Public Relations

As advances in transaction technology increase, so too do the growing pains that create new challenges for IT and communications at every turn. Privacy issues have become so rampant that 137 out of 194 countries put legislation in place to secure the protection of data and privacy in 2023. But even with those safeguards, consumers don’t believe for a second that brands and businesses are making privacy a priority—new research from consent and preference management platform Cassie reveals that a massive 92 percent of more than 1,000 consumers surveyed in the US, Canada and Europe think companies are still putting profits ahead of protection—a perception that now makes this issue a PR challenge.

The firm’s new Privacy Beyond Borders, which surveyed global consumers about global user expectations and the impact regional privacy laws have on their digital experiences, reveals those staggering numbers, and also finds that two-thirds (65 percent) of consumers do not believe data privacy regulations in their country adequately protect their personal data. To quell these concerns, brands must meet consumers’ desire for clear expectations of how their data will be used, and for companies to use encryption and secure data storage practices.

privacy rights

In today’s digital world, companies have little choice but to consider consumer preferences when it comes to data privacy, as there are many regional variances. Notably, US consumers were 24 percent more likely than EU consumers to value the trustworthiness or reputation of a website. Meanwhile, EU consumers were 17 percent less likely than average to value the use of encryption and secure data storage practices. UK consumers are reportedly 53 percent more likely than US consumers to believe that their country’s data privacy regulations adequately protect their personal data. They are also 34 percent more likely than US consumers to feel more comfortable interacting with a website that showcases its compliance with data privacy regulations.

“The regional disparities in consumer attitudes towards online security and data privacy highlight the difficult environment that businesses must steer through in a globalized digital economy,” said Nicky Watson, co-founder and chief architect of Cassie, in a news release. “Understanding and addressing these global variances is crucial to success. Particularly as consumers become increasingly proactive in protecting their online privacy, companies must adopt transparent and secure data practices—lest they risk losing consumer trust and business opportunities.”

Additional key findings from the report:

Who should be in charge of data privacy?

While 94 percent of consumers agree that companies should adhere to the strictest data privacy regulations globally, regardless of the country in which they operate, opinions on whose job it is to ensure they do so varies by region. US consumers were 55 percent more likely than EU consumers to believe data privacy should rest in the hands of companies. Meanwhile, European respondents were 83 percent more likely than US respondents to believe data privacy should rest in the hands of consumers.

privacy rights

Cookie consent and online behavior

Cookie banners are meant to protect and enforce users’ data privacy preferences—but consumer reactions to them vary. According to the report, European respondents are 160 percent more likely than US respondents to never read a cookie consent popup before clicking a response. However, consent fatigue is a universal sentiment as 73 percent of consumers globally report feeling overwhelmed by the number of consent requests when using online services.

Concerns about data security

An overwhelming majority (93 percent) of consumers expressed they are concerned about the security of their personal information online. This is no surprise, considering half of consumers that have consented without considering the consequences reported their personal information has been leaked in a data breach. What’s more, only 1 in 10 consumers consider themselves to be “very informed” when it comes to data privacy, leading 53 percent of consumers to abandon an online transaction due to concerns about a company’s data security in the past 12 months.

privacy rights

Download the full report here.

Cassie conducted its Privacy Beyond Borders survey online between February 29 and March 12, 2023. It reflects the opinions of over 1,000 global consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Canada, and was conducted at 95% confidence with a +/- 4% margin of error.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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