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Privacy: legitimate concern vs. paranoia

Regardless of whether you believe privacy concerns are warranted, there’s a decent ROI for those businesses who address them.

Last conducted in 2007, the latest instalment in a longitudinal study has been released which gauges the attitudes of Australians on the use of their personal information.

The 2013 Community Attitudes to Privacy survey* from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) sheds light on what businesses can do to foster greater trust from their customers and clients.

The chief concerns included:

  • 90 per cent of Australians are concerned about organisations sending their personal data overseas;
  • Over three quarters (78 per cent) of Australians are unhappy or uncomfortable with organisations monitoring and storing their online activity for later use;
  • Half of Australians do not read privacy policies because they are either too long, too complicated or too boring;
  • 25 per cent of Australians also indicated they were reluctant to share their personal information in order to protect their privacy.

Joel Camissar, Data Loss Prevention and Privacy Lead at McAfee Asia Pacific, told Dynamic Business that privacy has come to the fore because of consumer awareness.

“There’s increasing coverage in the news of data breaches, and making people much more aware of these issues. Also even Hollywood movies are coming out on the subject,” Camissar said.

So is it a case of wanting privacy, for the sake of privacy?

Regardless of what’s driving the fear, the findings represent a significant opportunity.

“The research findings have significant ramifications for Australian businesses keen to secure customer loyalty, and suggest the need for organisations to effectively communicate the measures they take to protect their customers’ valuable personal information,” Camissar said.

“With trust such a key element in the customer service relationship, there is a competitive advantage for businesses who take the lead in being transparent in how they handle and protect their customers’ personal information,” Camissar added.

What’s more, it’s not just customer loyalty at stake. Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim commented that the upcoming changes to the Privacy Act will make it a business imperative.

Data breaches most often occur due to poor or inadequate security measures. With only five months to go until the changes to the Privacy Act take effect, businesses need to reinforce to their employees the company’s responsibility for protecting customer details and also ensure that their security technology is robust,” Pilgrim said.

According to Camissar, the key to communicating this sometimes-dry information is to make privacy exciting. “Organisations can make their privacy policies exciting and simple for people to understand, so they can go against the grain and make it exciting rather than too long, boring, or complex for individuals to read,” he said.

In the case of McAfee a graphic of a so-called ‘privacy ninja’ illustrates to customers exactly what McAfee is doing to maintain privacy.

*McAfee, the Commonwealth Bank and Henry Davis York co-sponsored the report.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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