Privacy Dodge: Developers Say The Issue Is An Afterthought At Their Firms

If you really want to know what companies are doing about privacy, don’t ask the PR person or the guy on the email desk -- go down to the engine room and talk to the developers. 

They say their firms are pressuring them to take shortcuts in this area, according to Teach, Train and Trust: A Study of Data Practices Among Developers,” a study conducted by HarrisX in partnership with Data Protocol. 

Of the software developers surveyed 83% say their firms pressure them to implement decisions that compromise their view of privacy, with 19% claiming they often feel pressure to do so and 54% saying it happens sometimes. 

And 72% feel privacy is an afterthought when building products at their firms. But 83% of those working in startups say this attitude is especially prevalent there.

The developers themselves are taking questionable actions: 35% say they collect only the data they need for a given task, while 65% pull in all the data they can for future contingencies.  

Only 32% know a great deal about data minimization, and 67% of those have not taken any action. 

Moreover, 69% of developers feel that while they care about privacy, they do not feel prepared to make decisions. And 71% do not know how to be proactive when it comes to privacy.

Worse, 23% say it is a waste of time to inform users about how their data will be deployed. 

All this stands in stark contrast to the stated beliefs on privacy by companies, with 68% of developers saying the leadership at their firms sees the protection of privacy as very or critically important.

This belief is more pronounced among startups and consumer apps, and less so at data- and AI-driven businesses, the study says.  

For their part, 69% of developers think protecting consumer data is very or critically important.  

Meanwhile, 55% of developers with they had more data privacy training. And of those, 75% would be willing to pay for it. 

Only 37% have taken a class with an online provider, and 3% report no further training.  

Among mature companies, 87% have programs to pay for additional training. Regardless of who pays for it, developers see data privacy as important: 83% believe having strong data management skills will help advance their careers.  

HarrisX and Data Protocol surveyed 1,210 software developers. 

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