Wednesday, 19 July 2017 09:57

Australians selective about sharing data: survey


Australians are selective about sharing data with government agencies or commercial organisations, according to a survey conducted by global IT company Unisys.

Most Australians who were part of the survey did not support the use of data analytsics to sell them goods and services. About 62% did not back banks monitoring individual spending behaviour to offer related services such as insurance.

The survey of 1002 adults in April included questions about data obtained from IoT devices and also the use of data analytics. It was part of the 2017 Unisys Security Index – a global study that gauges the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security issues.

It found that there were sharply contrasting reactions from the participants. For example, whoe 82% were willing to have a button on their smmartphones or smartwatches to alert police during an emergency, only 35% favoured police monitoring fitness tracker data to determine their location.

Again, while 75% were supportive of having medical devices or blood sugar sensors transmit data to a doctor, but only 29% were in favour of using a smartwatch to make payments or having a health insurer access fitness tracker data to find out which customers deserved a premium. The figure was lower at 26% for using such data to determine a reward for good behaviour.

“These findings highlight that when it comes to personal data there is a very delicate balance between privacy, security and convenience – even for organisations generally trusted by the public,” said John Kendall, director of border and national security programmes at Unisys.

“For example, people are happy to use their smartwatch to alert police to their location when they need help, but they don’t want police to freely access that data at any time – they want to control when they share their data.”


Three in four Australians backed border security staff wearing facial recognition bvody cameras to identify criminals or terrorists based on a watch list but only 29% backed the use of such technology to identify passengers for VIP treatment.

Richard Parker, vice-president financial services, Unisys Asia Pacific, said: “To address consumer concern around data security of smartwatch payment channels, banks need a multi-pronged approach that spans technology and policies to secure the data, as well as reassuring customers by communicating the steps taken by the bank to protect them – a fine line in delivering a frictionless customer experience whilst making sure they are secure.

He said about half the Australians surveyed supported a fingerprint scan to control access to data on a smartwatch (52%) or to authorise a payment from the smartwatch (48%). "This is a clear signal to banks that biometrics could help alleviate consumer concerns about smartwatch payment channels."

The survey found that 57% supported border security officers analysing travel histories in order to determine the suitability for fast-track border clearance. But this fell to 40% when it came to supporting welfare agencies accessing personal data from credit card spending and insurance policies to verify if benefit claims were legitimate.

The figure was even lower (32%) when the participants were asked if they supported the tax office using the same data to verify tax returns.

"Customers expect businesses to know them based on the history of their relationship. In a world where interactions may be across a range of channels and not just in person, many organisations are turning to data analytics to provide extra insight," said Parker.

"Ironically, while they may be trying to improve the customer experience, if businesses cross the line and appear to invade their privacy by revealing that they know more about them than what the customer has knowingly shared, it just turns the customer off. Technology alone is not enough; it must be used in the context of understanding human nature and cultural norms.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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