The Trust Factor? Consumers Lack Faith In Brands And Government On Privacy

The uproar about privacy is just not going away. And it starts with what to do about the problem. Take the rollback of proposed rules to govern data use by ISPs like Verizon and Comcast. With the Federal government abdicating, states are considering laws that would restrict the ISPs, according to Consumer Reports.

"More and more, states have taken the position that if Congress is not willing or able to enact strong privacy laws, their legislatures will no longer sit on their hands," says Chad Marlow, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union,” Consumer Reports writes.

Not that this will do much to reassure people. One thing is clear from a survey released today by Gigya: that consumers don’t expect governments to protect them. Of 4,002 people polled in the U.S., the UK and the Republic of Ireland, 63% put the burden of protection on individuals, 19% on brands and only 18% on governments.

Nor do they feel that their new leaders will have much impact. Of the U.S. respondents, 26% feel their privacy is less secure with Donald Trump in the White House. But 32% feel it is more secure. In contrast, Prime Minister Theresa May makes 18% of her UK constituents feel less secure, and 17% more so.

The remainder in both countries sees no change at all.

But don’t think consumers are sanguine. Over two-thirds — 68% — say they do not trust consumer brands with their personal information. “This lack of trust has profound implications for the relationship between consumers and brands,” Gigya writes. And 69% are concerned about the IoT.

Granted, none of this reflects much of a shift in these sometimes contradictory survey findings.   

“Thirty-six percent report that there has been no change, while 33 percent believe brands’ privacy policies in general have become stronger.,” Gigya writes. “Interestingly, 31 percent believe they’ve become weaker. Of the total responses, 41 percent of U.K. respondents have seen no change and 32 percent report weaker policies, despite the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect next year.”

As for protecting their own privacy, consumers may not be up to the task. According to Gigya, “poor password hygiene persists,” with 70% using seven or fewer passwords across all their online accounts. The percentage is highest for Millennials — at 85% — and only 54% for baby boomers.

And yet, the respondents are quick to take action when they feel threatened. “After a breach, 62 percent have changed their passwords, 32 percent have added a second factor of authentication, and 18 percent have closed an account,” Gigya writes. “In addition, 61 percent of respondents with Facebook accounts have taken advantage of the social network’s privacy settings by updating their preferences.”

Meanwhile, many U.S. states are stepping into the Federal breach, and are rushing to pass bills before their legislative terms expire, according to Consumer Reports 

The answer for brands? Transparency, and “setting and adhering to strong and easily understood privacy policies,” Gigya continues. This is a good business proposition.

“Brands like Facebook today employ a transparent approach to privacy that empowers consumers to control how much personal information they share and with whom,” Gigya states. “Since implementing this transparent approach approximately two years ago, Facebook has grown its monthly active users to 1.86 billion as of Q4 2016 (adding 467 million new users since the same time two years ago) and the company market capitalization has grown 167 percent during that same period to about $400 billion today. Facebook’s proactive approach to privacy has clearly been a boon not only to their business but also to consumers, who have a clearer understanding of how their data is used on the social network.” 

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