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Consumer privacy concerns peak in the age of the mega breach

Five key data privacy takeaways from Mary Meeker's Internet trends 2016 report.
The technology and business media may have dissected Mary Meeker’s Internet trends 2016 report but there’s one section that has been largely overlooked.

Data privacy was given its own chapter for the first time in the report’s history and Meeker’s findings are eye opening for anyone interested in how both consumer and brand attitudes have shifted in the last year. The report also reveals how businesses are reacting to changes in the cybersecurity landscape as criminals become more determined and devious.

Below we highlight our five key takeaways from the presentation and unravel some of the drivers behind the most important trends.

Consumer concern has grown sharply.

According to Meeker’s report, 50 per cent of consumers are now ‘very concerned’ about data privacy, which is perhaps unsurprising.

What’s more interesting is how consumer attitudes have changed since 2015. Fear is not only prevalent amongst consumers, it’s grown sharply – 45 per cent of consumers are more worried about their online privacy now than they were a year ago. In Mary’s own words, ‘as data explodes, data security concerns explode’.

Data protection is now a priority.

In terms of what’s driving this fear, the top privacy concern amongst consumers is that companies will sell their personal details. Concerns around the location of their data claimed the number two spot.

Consumers were less worried about who actually sees and analyses their data within businesses suggesting that they care more about how brands store and protect their information than how they use it.

Are data breaches affecting consumer behaviour?

Ahuge 74 per cent of consumers have limited their online activity in the last year due to privacy concerns.

Although it’s unclear what has driven this trend, it’s likely that recent high profile breaches have influenced consumer behaviour. This is certainly the case in the UK with 62 per cent of consumers claiming they will now share fewer personal details with companies in light of recent breaches.

Good security is data-centric security.

In a typical business data is now accessed and shared by multiple departments and individuals in different locations. Ensuring this information isn’t ambushed along the way has become a significant challenge and Meeker’s report indicates that protecting networks, servers and applications will no longer cut it.

Forward-thinking businesses are now investing in solutions that protect the data itself, rather than specific systems and hardware.

The age of the mega breach.

One of the most jaw-dropping statistic from Meeker’s report perfectly illustrates why data privacy and protection have become such crucial issues for both brands and consumers – Since 2013, four billion individual data records have been breached.

Cybercrime is now a truly global threat and some of the largest organisations in the world have found themselves exposed in recent years. And if the current trend of high profile data breaches continues, consumer concerns around data privacy and data security will only rise.

It’s up to brands to ensure they have the right security processes and solutions in place to allay fears otherwise consumer concern may manifest as distrust and result in the withholding of personal data.

We’ll have to wait for Meeker’s next trend report to find out if they’re up to the challenge. 

Consumer Privacy, Privacy, Cyber Security, All