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Privacy a Key Concern for Mobile Users, says TRUSTe

David Murphy

Many smartphone users are more concerned about mobile privacy than a phone’s brand, screen size, camera resolution or weight; more than three-quarters of smartphone users won’t download an app they don’t trust; and although the majority of those surveyed don’t like the concept of tracking, 46 per cent of smartphone users are still unaware it even happens.

These  are some of the key findings of the 2013 UK Consumer Data Privacy Study: Mobile Edition conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of data privacy management firm, TRUSTe, among more than 900 UK smartphone users between 12 and19 June 2013. 

TRUSTe said the study provides a valuable barometer on current consumer perceptions and mobile privacy trends. The company will share the full research results in a series of ‘Powering Trust’ roadshow events. 

The study found that 76 per cent of smartphone users surveyed won’t download an app they don’t trust, (up from 68 per cent in 2012). Privacy is the primary concern for 20 per cent of smartphone users when using mobile apps, second only to battery life at 45 per cent – but more than other phone attributes, like brand (13 per cent) screen size (11 per cent), camera resolution (3 per cent), and weight (2 per cent). 54 per cent of smartphone users are frequently or always concerned about privacy when banking online, the online activity causing mobile users the greatest concern, followed by shopping online (50 per cent). 

Awareness of mobile behavioural advertising is relatively low, and, regardless of awareness, the majority of those surveyed do not like tracking. Specifically, 46 per cent of smartphone users are not aware that tracking takes place on mobile (compared with 24 per cent being unaware on the desktop). And 70 per cent of smartphone users surveyed do not like the idea of being tracked on their mobile phones (compared with 47 per cent on the desktop).

47 per cent of smartphone users surveyed will not share any personal information in exchange for free or lower cost mobile apps. The study found that smartphone users are less willing to share personal data in general compared with TRUSTe's 2012 research. The vast majority of users will not share contact information (98 per cent); precise location data (92 per cent); or web surfing behaviour (91 per cent).

While offering apps for free or at a reduced cost will entice 35 per cent of smartphone users to share some information, this is down from 40 per cent in 2012 – and 47 per cent still refuse to share any information.

37 per cent of smartphone users surveyed said they check to make sure whether a mobile app has a privacy policy, and almost 17 per cent check to see if the app has a privacy trust mark or seal. Additionally, 32 per cent research apps online and 22 per cent check with friends before sharing personal information.

“With mobile privacy concerns running higher than ever, the business implications simply can’t be ignored,” said TRUSTe CEO, Chris Babel. “If a user won’t download an app or share location data, mobile commerce, and technology innovation, takes a hit. To secure their future growth, companies must address mobile privacy concerns now, giving users what they’re asking for, with more transparency and control over their privacy choices.”