An interesting survey from ComRes and Big Brother Watch came out recently giving us a broad global comparison of attitudes toward online privacy. The results were rather surprising and certainly confounded some of our own expectations.
The survey involved 10,354 interviews across citizens from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, India, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Austria. One surprising statistic is that India ranks number one out of the nine countries in terms of online privacy concerns. In total 94% of all Indian respondents said they were concerned about their personal privacy online.
This concern was echoed by Brazilians, with 90% of respondents expressing concern, and Spain (also 90%). Given that we rarely see much protest over online privacy coming from India and Brazil, this is certainly a heartening statistic. These emerging economies represent the future of online business, so it’s good to know their populations demonstrate a healthy degree of skepticism over data collection online.
But perhaps the most interesting statistic comes from Germany. According to the survey, Germany was the only country where a majority of respondents (56%) said they were not concerned about their privacy online. How should we read this finding? On the one hand it suggests a worrying level of complacency from the German population. But it’s also true that the German government has probably done more than any other western democracy to curtail online privacy violations.
For instance, German courts are still blocking the implementation of the EU Data Retention Directive and they’ve ruled against Google’s data gathering practices on more than one occasion. Perhaps the German people have more reason to feel secure (which is the conclusion ComRes has reached)? Or maybe German’s are simply more naïve about the level of protection their government offers – especially in light of the recent PRISM revelation.
After Spain and Brazil, Australians are the most concerned about online privacy (85%), followed by Japan (84%), South Korea (81%), France (72%) and the UK (68%). Australians certain have good reason to be extra sensitive to online privacy concerns at the moment, with their government currently considering whether or not to implement its own mandated data retention law for ISPs.
Here are some of the key general stats that the survey found, which show that overall most consumers around the world take a dim few of data collection by companies.
Three quarters (79%) globally say they are concerned about their privacy online.
Two-fifths (41%) of consumers surveyed globally say that consumers are being harmed by big companies gathering large amounts of personal data for internal use.
Two out of three (65%) of consumers surveyed believe that national regulators should do more to force Google to comply with existing regulations concerning online privacy and the protection of personal data.
It’s also worth pointing out that ComRes’ survey was conducted back in March, way before the recent PRISM scandal broke. It would be certainly interesting to see how consumer attitudes toward online privacy have changed since those revelations. We’re guessing it would be for the worse.