Crossing the line: Consumer Privacy | KPMG | IE
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Personal privacy concerns affect online purchasing

Crossing the line: Consumer Privacy

New report from KPMG shows companies are failing to see privacy as a fundamental business priority and risk crossing the ‘creepy line'.


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Crossing the line: Consumer Privacy

55 per cent of consumers around the globe have decided against buying something online due to concerns over their personal privacy.

The finding is contained in a new report from KPMG entitled "Crossing the Line: Staying on the right side of consumer privacy."

At one of the busiest times of the year for online shopping, the report highlights that while consumers are willing to embrace technology in order to improve their lives, many are becoming increasingly wary of organisations which collect and retain their information.

Among the key findings are:

  • Over half of survey respondents said they were willing to share their gender, education or ethnicity online, while a considerably lower proportion were happy to share more sensitive information, such as location (16 per cent), address (14 per cent) or medical records (13 per cent).
  • However, less than 20 per cent were comfortable disclosing details on their online search history, income, location, address or medical records.
  • Less than 10 per cent of consumers feel they have control over the way organisations handle and use their personal data today.
  • 82 per cent are not comfortable with the sale of their data to third-parties in exchange for the speed, convenience, product range, home delivery and price comparison that online shopping offers.
  • The top 3 concerns about the way organisations are handling and using personal information are:
    • Unwanted marketing (59 per cent)
    • Personal information being sold on to third-parties (58 per cent)
    • Lack of secure systems (55 per cent)
  • Almost one-third of respondents use "incognito" or "do not track" modes when browsing the web, while a quarter per cent use encryption.
  • Just 50 per cent would accept free or cheaper products in exchange for less privacy.

Despite these concerns, 57 per cent of people fail to read, or only skim, privacy policies. Irish consumers read privacy policies most thoroughly when entering a website (27 per cent), followed by joining a mailing list or subscription (22 per cent) and submitting an online form (21 per cent). Irish consumers pay less attention to privacy policies when downloading software such as a mobile app (18 per cent), setting up a social media profile (14 per cent) and making an online transaction (12 per cent).

Commenting on the findings, Michael Daughton, Partner at KPMG with responsibility for IT assurance, risk and control, said: "It's crucial that companies accurately assess whether they are handling customer information in a sound way. Failure to address this issue can seriously damage a business, as both customers and regulators are paying an increasing amount of attention to how organisations collect, store and use personal data. This study highlights how consumers value privacy over convenience so companies which are seeking to use personal data to personalise marketing, build brand loyalty and develop better products need to be acutely aware of this."

About the survey

The report, "Crossing the line: Staying on the right side of consumer privacy", details the privacy preferences of 6,900 consumers in 24 countries.

About KPMG in Ireland

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services.  KPMG in Ireland employs 2,200 people across its audit, tax and advisory services from offices in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Galway.

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