Monday, 27 November 2017 12:16

Most Australians concerned about digital privacy: study

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A majority of Australians surveyed about digital rights, the need for governance and the responsibilities of social media platforms have indicated that they are concerned about their digital privacy.

The survey, carried out by the Digital Rights and Governance Project at the University of Sydney, found that of 1600 survey subjects 67% were taking steps to protect their privacy online. But only 38% felt they were in control.

The study found that about 80% wanted to know what information of theirs was being accessed, by whom, and how to report and correct inaccuracies.

“Australians’ personal and professional lives are being transformed by digital disruption, while lawmakers, technology elites and corporate boards fail to keep up," said the report’s co-author, Professor Gerard Goggin.

"Data hoarding and seemingly opaque decision-making has given rise to community concern and an urgent need for our digital rights to be clearly laid out by the government.”

Another co-author, Professor Ariadne Vromen, said: “Our results provide a snapshot of the nation’s attitudes and behaviours in the digital world and show Australians’ clear concerns about how their information is being used and accessed by governments, social media platforms and corporations."

The report also shows support for state-led surveillance of internet activity is dependent on what it is for. Some 57% favour collecting communications data for anti-terrorism purposes. However, the same percentage oppose a broader requirement for Internet service providers to store customer metadata.

Of the survey subjects, 36% said was okay for employers to look at their public social media posts, but only 20% said private posts should also be open to employers.

Study co-author Dr Fiona Martin said half of those surveyed thought everyone should have the right to anonymity online, but opinion was divided on whether people should be free "to say and do what they want", with 36% for and 30% against this statement.

Thirty-nine percent had been affected by mean or abusive remarks online, and 27% had had personal information posted without their consent. Twenty percent or fewer had been affected by racist remarks, unwanted sexual communications, and cyber bullying.

The survey found that more than a third of parents (37%) had advised their children to reduce their social media use due to the behaviour of others, while almost a quarter (24%) had advised children to delete a social media account due to bullying.

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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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