Consumer data & the digital economy

According to the Consumer Policy Research Centre‘s recent report Consumer data & the digital economyAustralians are spending more of their lives online. 87% were active internet users in 2017, more than 17 million use social networking sites, and 84% of Australians are now buying products online.

Big Data is big business. In 2018 alone, revenue from the Big Data software market was estimated at $42 billion.

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation now provides EU consumers with new protections including greater transparency and control of data being collected about them by companies.

In Australia, consultation is currently underway to establish a Consumer Data Right, an optional right for consumers to gain access to portability of their data. While a step in the right direction, it currently falls short of economy- wide protections for Australian consumers whose data is being collected, shared and used on a daily basis.

Ensuring that we strike the right balance is crucial. For consumers to benefit, policy settings need to drive innovation, enhance competition, protect human rights and the right to privacy and, ultimately, enable genuine consumer choice.

Snapshot of the report’s key findings:

  • Ninety-five per cent wanted companies to give options to opt out of certain types of information collected about them, how it can be used and/or what can be shared with others
  • Ninety-one per cent agreed that companies should only collect the information currently needed to provide the service
  • When asked ‘what data/information would you be uncomfortable with companies sharing with third parties for purposes other than delivering the product or service’, the four highest- ranking answers were:
    • Phone contacts (87 per cent)
    • Your messages (86 per cent)
    • Device ID (84 per cent)
    • Phone number (80 per cent)
  • Of the Australians surveyed who reported reading a Privacy Policy or Terms and Conditions for one or more services/products in the past 12 months:
  • Two- thirds (67 per cent) indicated that they still signed up for one or more products even though they did not feel comfortable
  • The most common reason (73 per cent) for accepting privacy policies with which consumers were not comfortable was that it was the only way to access the product or service
  • Consumers surveyed found it unacceptable for companies to:
    • Charge different consumers different prices based on their (data) profile (88 per cent)
    • Collect data about them without their knowledge to assess eligibility or exclude from a loan or insurance (87 per cent)
    • Use payment behaviour data to exclude from certain essential products and services (82 per cent)
  • Seventy-three per cent believe Government should ensure companies give consumers options to opt out of what data they provide, how it can be used and if it can be shared
  • Sixty-seven per cent believe Government should develop protections to ensure consumers are not unfairly excluded from essential products or services based on the data or profile.

Read the Full Report

Read the Summary Report