The Mobile Ecosystem Forums (MEF) 9th annual Global Trust Report has revealed that concerns around data sharing has increased over time as over 67% of global mobile users avoid sharing their personal data.
The Report disclosed that the vast majority of mobile users have some level of concern about remaining in control of the data they share. Only 12% say they do not worry about data sharing. Yet most are not achieving true control over the data they share with apps and services.
According to the report, it was discovered that consumer trust in data sharing has become weak and abstinence levels are increasing.
The report also noted that the top three factors that consumers say provide a sense of control all centre around abstaining from sharing information where the user does not feel comfortable.
This further presents a challenge for the mobile industry as it makes it difficult to build new data-based technology like Artificial Intelligence, recommendation engines, advertising or mobile intelligence.
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Two-thirds of mobile users are concerned about the amount of data collected about them and avoid sharing their information when possible. The report also found that consumers want more regulation of Big Tech companies, especially around issues of harmful content.
The Global Trust Index, a construct based on user perception, currently stands at 54%. This symbolises that trust is weak for almost half of the mobile users. The strongest component of the Index is awareness of how personal data may be used, with several indicators suggesting there may be an increasing understanding of risk among mobile users.
Speaking on this, the CEO of MEF, Dario Betti said “Nothing is clearer than the words and actions of mobile users. Trust in data sharing is weak. Yet, there are surprising elements in that many users are finding that their perception of an immediate threat is much reduced.
“There is a form of decay in the system that is not easy to view from a distance – data abstinence. The quantity and quality of information that is shared in the system is deteriorating. The study shows that 67% of users globally, avoid sharing their personal data, and only 12% of users say that they do not worry about control of their data or data sharing.”
As part of the concern, the report disclosed many users claim they still lack knowledge about tools and services that could help them how to keep their personal data secure. Protective data management actions have only slightly increased, with many users uncertain they are much safer for having taken them.
Despite the concerns consumers have about data sharing, there is only muted interest in personal information management systems. The general feeling is that tech companies should protect their data and privacy, not the consumer should have to take control themselves.
The report also noted that the most common user-selected priorities for regulation are ensuring that big technology companies do not have too much power over personal data.
While stressing the importance of building consumer trust, the report highlighted that if the concern is not addressed, user reticence to share data poses a risk to any organisation seeking to leverage artificial intelligence or build systems on data such as recommendation engines, advertising or mobile intelligence. All will be less powerful unless users share their data freely and willingly.
Furthermore, it added that “as social media strengthens its position as the most prevalent and frequent mobile activity, increasing numbers of users feel their security and privacy are exposed. It is incumbent upon social media companies to adopt a leadership role in addressing perceived shortcomings on data transparency and trustworthiness”.