Is mobile privacy a bigger concern than a phone’s brand?

A new Harris Interactive study provides a valuable barometer on current consumer perceptions and mobile privacy trends by examining issues, such as data collection, geo-location tracking, mobile advertising and privacy management responsibility.

Among the top findings: 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, nearly half (46%) of smartphone users are still unaware it even happens.

“With mobile privacy concerns running higher than ever, the business implications simply can’t be ignored,” said Chris Babel, CEO for TRUSTe. “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.”

Mobile privacy concerns increasing

  • 76% of smartphone users surveyed won’t download an app they don’t trust, (up from 68% in 2012)
  • Privacy is the primary concern for 20% of smartphone users when using mobile apps, second only to battery life at 45% – but more than other phone attributes, like brand (13%) screen size (11%), camera resolution (3%), weight (2%)
  • 54% 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%)

Awareness of mobile tracking is low

Awareness of mobile behavioral advertising is relatively low, and, regardless of awareness, the majority of those surveyed do not like tracking. Specifically:

  • 46% of smartphone users are not aware that tracking takes place on mobile (compared with 24% being unaware on the desktop)
  • 70% of smartphone users surveyed do not like the idea of being tracked on their mobile phones (compared with 47% on the desktop)

Mobile users are less willing to share personal data than a year ago

47% 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%); precise location data (92%).or web surfing behavior (91%).

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

Mobile users checking for privacy policies and trust marks

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

The 2013 UK Consumer Data Privacy Study: Mobile Edition was conducted online among more than 900 UK smartphone users.

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