By Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings
That’s the latest from a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based mobile users. Although they are willing to share location data with family, friends and even their favorite brands, 72% of respondents believe that data should not be shared with third parties.
And who could blame them?
It seems every month there is another news headline about major brands and data collectors violating users’ privacy. Several large organizations are under fire for capturing and sharing unauthorized data, such as location information. Regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have triggered a new age of privacy and momentum to ensure consumers know their rights. Organizations must be prepared for this new normal.
It is time for the industry to take privacy seriously.
Mobile services and applications have become an integral part of everyday lives. This gives service providers and application developers access to rich data to solve problems, improve daily tasks and enhance mobile experiences. But with this access comes responsibility to protect user information. The industry as a whole must understand and respect user beliefs and behaviors regarding privacy.
More on User Beliefs
The recent Connecthings survey, “State of Mobile Application Usage,” sought to determine the beliefs, preferences and behaviors of mobile users in relation to many aspects of mobile experiences, including privacy and the sharing of location data. The findings revealed interesting trends that are highlighted in our newly-released “Privacy Matters” infographic.
The most significant finding is that regardless of age, gender or environment, data privacy is a big concern to the majority of users. Across generations, more than two thirds of the respondents said that mobile apps should not share their data with third parties.
The survey showed that Baby Boomers and GenXers feel slightly stronger about data privacy than the younger generations. Seventy-six percent of Baby Boomers reported they are against sharing data with third parties versus 62% of Generation Z.
Population density did not have a significant impact on users’ beliefs. Urban dwellers show only slightly less concern about sharing data with third parties. Sixty-nine percent of urban dweller reported they do not believe data should be shared versus 75% in rural areas.
A Closer Look at Location Sharing Behavior
Although the survey shows users are very concerned about their data being shared with third parties, they responded differently when asked about their personal preferences and behaviors when it comes to sharing location data. This indicates that when it comes to data sharing, control over what is being shared with whom and when are the most critical factors impacting user comfort.
We asked respondents with whom they typically share mobile location information, and as you will see in the graph below, respondents are much more likely to do so with members of their inner circle, including family (79%) and friends (56%).
However, when it comes to sharing location information with mobile applications, including transportation apps, brands and businesses nearby, users across all generations are much more discerning. Only 19% choose to share location data with their favorite mobile apps, 14% share with their favorite brands, and less than 10% would share with brands, restaurants or businesses in close proximity if which they did not have an existing relationship.
It does appear that some external factors, such as population density, can impact sharing behavior. Urban dwellers are more open than rural dwellers to sharing location information with mobile apps (22% vs. 17%), transportation apps (13% vs. 8%) and employers (19% vs. 10%).
It also appears the GenZ users are more inclined than their older counterparts to share location information with service applications, such as public transportation (20% vs. 5%). This could indicate younger generations are more motivated to share data in exchange for services.
Taking the Lead in Responsible Data Sharing
Overall, these survey findings show that users have a higher comfort level when they are in control of data sharing practices. While most actively share location with their inner circle, there is significant concern about data being shared with third parties by mobile applications and brands. This is an unfortunate problem that is fueled with each breach of security and privacy that tops the headlines. And it limits brands and applications from creating the extremely personalized, highly valuable user experiences they desire.
Privacy is intrinsic to Connecthings and we choose to lead the industry by example. We understand the importance of giving control to users and have always practiced strict data-sharing practices. Our solution, Herow, applies a two-layer opt-in approach to location-sharing permissions. Location and behavioral data are used exclusively by applications to customize experiences.
Connecthings does not save historical data or share it with any third-party services. While other companies share and sell consumer location information, Connecthings focuses on contextual intelligence using the location of app users to anticipate their needs and wants, and offer relevant, timely experiences.
You can access the full infographic here.
To learn more about how to leverage the power of location and context while respecting user privacy, get in touch at www.connecthings.com/contact-us/