The Contradictory Approach to Data Privacy and Security

December 11, 2021

The importance and relevance of the internet could never be underestimated, and the internet we know of today has undoubtedly reached new heights. With the total number of internet users rising every day, more and more daily activities are being moved to the digital world.

Retail and finance are already established online industries, and more fields are going digital. As a result, people can shop for groceries, pay bills, and organize vacations without leaving their homes.

But how private and secure is our data online? It is something many internet users want more information about. However, even when allowed to find out how their data is used, few jump to the opportunity to take advantage of this feature, thus giving a contradictory approach to data privacy and security.

The latest statistics

Generally, most internet users believe they are taking all the proactive steps to increase their data privacy and security. However, most might not be aware of the essential steps they need to take to achieve this. Let’s examine the results of Entrust survey.

More than 83% of internet users say they’re implementing proactive measures to ensure data privacy and security. However, these users didn’t take basic data protection precautions, signaling a lack of awareness about the problem.

Additionally, most consumers are willing to share their data in exchange for receiving different benefits from providers. For example, 64% of consumers are willing to share personal information to get targeted, personalized, and more suitable suggestions from an app or a service.

Further, 83% of consumers are comfortable with online services using and accessing their biometric data, including third-party identity verification systems often found at airports. 61% of consumers are also willing to share personal information if an app gives them more transparency and control over how they use their data.

Looking at these statistics, one would get an impression people are largely satisfied with how different services use their data and handle data privacy and security.

The contradiction

But that’s not the case. Even though most consumers choose to share personal information to get certain benefits from online services, many are still concerned about how these services handle data privacy.

Namely, 79% of consumers are concerned about their data privacy, while 64% of people claimed their data privacy concerns increased over the last year. News stories were primarily the reason for this increase in concerns, with 60% of consumers listing news stories as their primary source of awareness, followed by targeted ads at 48%.

Taking these numbers into account, it’s evident there’s a rising interest in data privacy and security among most internet users. So, what are the consumers doing to ensure their online safety?

Well, not much.

Even though the concerns are rapidly growing, consumers struggle to make changes.

For instance, 43% of consumers said they don’t carefully review the terms and conditions before using an online service or downloading an app. The three most common reasons for not going through the terms and conditions were the amount of time required to complete them; the complex language used that was often hard to comprehend, and not knowing where to start.

Still, most users don’t trust online sources, especially news and media sites, video streaming sites, social networking sites, and global brands.

Digital distrust is translated into other spheres as well. 35% of UK and 27% of US consumers trust their employees with their data. Similarly, 31% of UK and 19% of US consumers trust their government agencies and organizations. Finally, 41% of UK and 35% of US consumers trust their banks and other financial institutions with their personal information.

Potential solutions

So, it’s safe to say that most internet users are ready to exchange their data and gain certain benefits that enhance their online experience. Although most of them are concerned about how online services use their data, not many people take the necessary steps to improve their online privacy and safety.

Here are some potential solutions for increasing data privacy and security:

  • Examine legal documents

By examining all legal documents before you agree to them, you’ll better understand what the online service does with your data. So, we highly recommend going through terms and conditions even though this process can take some time.

  • Manage cookies

Cookies are primarily used for the improvement of suggestions and personalization. To do this, companies must gather substantial amounts of personal data to learn what the user is interested in. Manage cookies to limit companies from collecting your personal information. The easiest way is to block third-party cookies or choose browsers that do this automatically.

  • Encrypt internet traffic

Your browsing activities reveal a lot about you as a person. For instance, your search queries directly relate to your interests or shopping goals. Thus, if you wish to remain more anonymous, getting a Virtual Private Network is a brilliant decision. After all, it encrypts your internet traffic, preventing certain entities from snooping on your activities. Your ISP might also be the one monetizing your data. VPN encryption prevents these companies from harvesting information about your digital activities.

Final thoughts

Data privacy and security are a cause of great concern. With cybercrime reaching new records every year, it’s vital to protect our valuable data adequately. Only by taking all the precautionary measures and educating ourselves can we increase the much-needed safety of our personal information online.

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