Publication date: September 2020

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With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms this report Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2020 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/deed.en)

Document Retrieval Information:
Publication date: September 2020
No of Pages: 121
ISBN: 978-1-877079-74-0
Publication Title: Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2020

Organisation that prepared this report:
Lonergan Website: www.lonergan.team
Email: chris@lonergan.team Telephone: +61 2 9046 5600

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, contact us through the National Relay Service: www.relayservice.gov.au.
This study was conducted in compliance with quality and data privacy standards and legislation including ISO 20252, Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), The (Market and Social Research) Privacy Code 2014 and the AMSRS Code of Professional Behaviour.

Report available from:
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Phone: 1300 363 992
Email: enquiries@oaic.gov.au

Commissioner’s foreword

Privacy Commissioner's headshotIn 2020, privacy is a major concern for 70% of Australians, and almost 9 in 10 want more choice and control over their personal information.

These are among the key findings of our Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS), which for the first time in its 30-year history has been conducted entirely online.

It also measures the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our views towards privacy and provides critical insights into our nation’s beliefs and concerns at a unique point in time.

The survey reveals data privacy is now our top consideration when we are choosing a digital service — ahead of reliability, convenience and price. In an ever-evolving digital environment, the actions we take to maintain our privacy are changing, while our trust in organisations to protect our personal information continues to decline.

Our concern about privacy is driven by experience. More than half of us experienced a problem with how our data was used during the 12 months leading up to the survey, such as unwanted marketing communications, or personal information being collected when it was not required.

Compared to 2017, when the survey was last conducted, Australians are more likely to view identity theft and fraud as the biggest risks to privacy, along with data security and data breaches.

We also have strong views on misuse of our information. This includes being asked for information that doesn’t seem relevant or having information about the websites we visit recorded without our knowledge. In response, we are more likely to take certain actions to protect our privacy than in 2017 — such as deleting an app, denying permission to access our information, or clearing our browser history.

Our comfort with certain data practices depends on the type of information collected, the purpose behind it, and the level of trust in the organisation involved. Australians appear more comfortable with data practices where the purpose is clearly understood – for example, law enforcement using facial recognition and video surveillance to identify suspects.

But we are concerned about businesses tracking our location through mobiles or web browsers (62%) and are generally reluctant to provide biometric information (66%). Commercial profiling activities drive higher levels of discomfort than government data practices.

This is an area of focus for regulators, including the OAIC, which is working towards a new privacy code for social media and online platforms. The binding code will improve Australians’ ability to manage privacy choices through transparent policies and better practices around consent, and will strengthen protections for children and other groups with particular needs.

As the survey shows, most Australian parents strongly support more restrictions on business and devices to protect the data privacy of children online. They want their children to be empowered to use the internet and online services, but their data privacy to be protected in the digital environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also influenced our views about privacy. While half of all Australians think privacy is more at risk generally during the pandemic, the majority are comfortable with personal information being shared to combat COVID-19 and expect it to be protected.

Across the board, there is a strong understanding of why we should protect personal information (85% agree) but Australians are less sure how they can do this (49% agree). The main reasons for not doing more to safeguard privacy are lack of knowledge, lack of time and the difficulty of the process.

While my office provides a range of resources on simple steps people can take to protect their privacy, there are strong signals here for regulated entities on how to build consumer trust and confidence.

Business use of personal information should be contextual and related to purpose. In response to perceived privacy risks, regulated entities need to strengthen measures to prevent data breaches, such as investing in systems and staff training. Making it easier for Australians to have more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal information will also differentiate a business from its competitors.

Australians are more likely to trust a website or service if they have read the privacy policy. However, only 20% read privacy policies and are confident they understand them. We want privacy policies that are easier to understand, and feature standard, simple language (87%), a plain English summary (86%), and use of icons as visual prompts (73%).

While there has been a decrease in trust in organisations to handle personal information, the survey points to other factors that increase trust and transparency, such as certification.

As well as greater control over their personal information, Australians want to be protected against harmful practices, with 84% believing personal information should not be used in ways that cause harm, loss or distress. Australians also want increased rights around certain issues such as asking businesses to delete information (84%).

These insights are important to consider as we embark on a review of the Privacy Act 1988 led by the Attorney-General’s Department. The Australian Government has also committed to a new system of fines and penalties for interferences with privacy.

Additional measures that enhance organisational accountability and facilitate meaningful self-management of privacy will be a focus of the reform process. It should also consider the need for global interoperability of laws to reduce regulatory friction for business and enable economic growth, and a framework that equips the OAIC with the right tools to operate as a contemporary regulator.

When our research on community attitudes to privacy began in the 1990s, the Privacy Act had limited application to the private sector. As we head into the 2020s, the Act’s coverage is being reviewed, providing a further opportunity to ensure it is aligned with community expectations.

My office will use the findings of ACAPS 2020 to inform our input into the review of the Privacy Act, and our priorities for the coming years. We look forward to working closely with Australian Government agencies and other organisations to build greater trust and confidence in the community that their privacy and personal information is respected and protected.

Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner

Executive summary

The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS) 2020 was conducted between February and March 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 2,866 unique respondents aged 18 years and over. Additional research was conducted in early April 2020 to measure changing attitudes to privacy issues following the COVID-19 outbreak. For the first time since the survey’s inception in 2001, all data was collected online.

The main objectives of the 2020 survey were to:

  • provide insight on Australian attitudes towards privacy
  • understand the change in Australian attitudes and behaviours over time through the construction of longitudinal trend models
  • identify awareness of and concern about emerging privacy issues, related to new technologies and to regulation, and
  • collect data to assist the OAIC as the national privacy regulator across policy, compliance, and communications initiatives.

Main findings

Privacy is an important issue for most Australians. Seventy percent consider the protection of their personal information to be a major concern in their life. The biggest privacy risks identified by Australians in 2020 are:

  • identify theft and fraud (76%)
  • data security and data breaches (61%)
  • digital services, including social media sites (58%)
  • smartphone apps (49%), and
  • surveillance by foreign entities (35%) or Australian entities (26%).

Three in 5 Australians (59%) have experienced problems with how their personal information was handled in the past 12 months. The majority involved unwanted marketing communications or having their personal information collected (with or without consent) when this was not required to deliver the service.

The behaviours Australians are most likely to consider a misuse are when:

  • an organisation uses their personal information in ways that cause harm, loss or distress (84%)
  • information supplied to an organisation for a specific purpose is used for another purpose (84%), and
  • a personal device is listening to conversations and sharing this with other organisations without their knowledge (83%).

Concerns regarding data privacy are driven by a belief that many companies routinely use personal information for purposes that make Australians uncomfortable.

Levels of comfort with the data practices of online businesses including social media sites and other digital platforms are low. They vary according to the nature of the organisation involved, the purpose for collecting or using the data and the type of personal information collected:

  • The Australian Government is generally more trusted than businesses with the protection of personal information. Certain purposes are considered more legitimate than others, such as public safety. Australians are slightly more comfortable with most instances of government use of personal information than they were in 2017.
  • Australians are particularly uncomfortable with businesses tracking their location through their mobile or web browser (62% uncomfortable) and keeping databases of information on what they have said and done online (62% uncomfortable).
  • Australians are increasingly questioning data practices where the purpose for collecting personal information is unclear, with 81% of Australians considering ‘an organisation asking for information that doesn't seem relevant to the purpose of the transaction’ as a misuse (up 7% since 2017).

Most Australians have a clear understanding of why they should protect their personal information (85% agree) but half say they don’t know how (49% agree). Four in 10 rate their knowledge of privacy as fair to poor, while 23% say their knowledge is excellent or very good. One third (34%) feel they are in control of their privacy, however just as many (34%) do not. This is not through lack of desire, as 87% want more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal information.

In line with this, Australians are most likely to believe they should have:

  • the right to ask a business to delete their personal information (84%)
  • the right to ask a government agency to delete their personal information (64%)
  • the right to seek compensation in the courts for a breach of privacy (78%)
  • to know when their personal information is used in automated decision-making if it could affect them (77%), and
  • the right to object to certain data practices while still being able to access and use the service (77%).
  • Compared to 2017, fewer Australians are taking measures to protect their privacy, in particular:
  • asking public or private sector organisations why they need personal information (down 16%)
  • choosing not to use an app on a mobile device because of concerns over handling personal information (down 13%)
  • shredding documents (down 11%), and
  • adjusting privacy settings on a social networking website (down 10%).

Privacy regulation and reform

Eighty-three percent of Australians would like the government to do more to protect the privacy of their data. A quarter (24%) feel the privacy of their personal information is well protected, while 40% feel it is poorly protected.

On a prompted basis, half (48%) of Australians know about the Privacy Commissioner, an increase of 4% since 2017. Australians are just as likely to report a misuse of privacy to the police (37%) as the Privacy Commissioner (38%). Two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed are unaware that they can request access to their personal information from business and government agencies. This has not changed since 2017.

Privacy policies

Only 1 in 5 Australians (20%) read and are confident they understand privacy policies on internet sites. The main reasons why Australians do not read privacy policies include the length and difficulty of the policies.

Those who read privacy policies are much more likely to actively take measures to ensure the protection of their privacy and personal information.

Australians strongly support measures to improve privacy policies to make them easier to read. They want to see standard, simple language (87% support) and a plain English summary at the start of every privacy policy (86% support). There is also support (73%) for the use of icons as indicators that certain activities are undertaken, for example, if data is stored overseas.

Children’s privacy

Australian parents provide their children access to connected devices and digital services early in life and are more likely to be concerned about their children’s privacy (91%) than their own (82%). They are particularly uncomfortable with businesses tracking the location of a child without permission (70%) and businesses obtaining personal information about a child and selling it to third parties (69%).

Parents are very supportive of measures to increase the protection of their children’s privacy and educate children on these issues. The most appealing idea is that a company must provide important data privacy information to children in clear language that is not misleading (85% support, 60% strongly support).

Half of parents (47%) believe that they are doing everything they can to protect their child’s personal information. Thirteen percent do not actively do anything to protect their child’s privacy online. Lack of knowledge, time and difficulty are the main reasons given for not doing more.

On average parents believe children should be able to consent to handing over their personal information in exchange for an online service from the age of 13, which generally coincides with the acquisition of a mobile phone and more widespread use of social media.

Young Australians

Young Australians (18-24) are more likely than older counterparts to know how to protect their personal information (54%; cf. 49% overall, 43% aged over 50). However, they are less likely to understand why they should protect their personal information (78%; cf. 85% overall).

Young Australians are the least likely age group to believe protecting earlypersonal information is a major concern in their life (63% cf. 70% overall) and the most likely to believe it is too much effort to protect the privacy of their data (39%; cf. average 30%).

Three in 10 (29%) believe the privacy of information and data when choosing a digital service is extremely important, compared with the Australian average of 54%.

Compared to the average Australian, those aged 18-24 are more likely to take control of their privacy in the digital realm, but less likely to take control outside this environment. Young Australians are more likely to adjust settings on social media (51%; cf. average 46%), use ad blockers, VPNs and privacy-focused web search engines (40%; cf. average 32%) and change smartphone settings for a higher level of privacy (43%; cf. average 35%). They are less likely to shred documents (26%; cf. average 41%) or to ask public or private sector organisations why they need their information (20%; cf. average 27%).

As with control, young Australians are also more likely to take action to protect their privacy. A quarter (26%) of young Australians have changed a service provider due to privacy concerns (cf. average 13%). They are more likely to have deleted an app (61% cf. average 57%) and request that personal information is deleted (27% cf. average 23%).

Privacy and COVID-19

The main fieldwork for the 2020 ACAPS survey was conducted immediately prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. The outbreak had an impact on attitudes to privacy with half (50%) of Australians considering that their privacy is more at risk in a COVID-19 environment than usual and almost half (48%) being more concerned about the protection of their location information than they were before the outbreak. Overall, more Australians feel comfortable than uncomfortable with the protection of their personal information while using digital services at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, whether it is for work, studying or personal use.

The majority (60%) agree that some privacy concessions must be made to combat COVID-19 for the greater good. The same proportion agree that concessions should not be permanent. Consent is still important: more than half (54%) are comfortable with the government using phone data to help stop the spread of COVID-19 with consent, whereas 29% are comfortable with phone data being used without consent.

Introduction and background

The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS) is a longstanding study to evaluate the awareness, understanding, behaviour and concerns about privacy among Australians. The survey was first conducted in 2001. It is commissioned by the national privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). It provides longitudinal information on the attitudes Australians hold regarding key privacy issues, their experiences and perspectives towards misuse of personal data, as well as actions taken to protect their privacy.

Rapid growth of online businesses, social media and other digital platforms has presented new privacy and personal data considerations. The past decade has seen a dramatic shift in the type of privacy risks Australians face and, in response, a change in the types of concerns Australians hold about privacy. The 2020 survey also provides insight into how Australians’ views on privacy have changed over time.

Findings from the survey inform the OAIC’s strategic direction in policy development, enforcement and education and awareness priorities.

The main objectives of the 2020 survey were to:

  • provide insight on Australian attitudes towards privacy
  •  understand the change in Australian attitudes and behaviours over time through the construction of longitudinal trend models
  • identify awareness of and concern about emerging privacy issues, related to new technologies or to regulation, and
  • collect data to assist the OAIC as the national privacy regulator across policy, compliance and communications initiatives.

The 2020 survey has changed from earlier waves of the study and addresses a wide range of new concerns. This wave examines children’s privacy issues for the first time, following a separate survey module that was solely answered by Australian parents. It also explores privacy-related topics such as biometrics, artificial intelligence and location data in more detail than before.

The main fieldwork for the 2020 survey was conducted immediately prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic was rapid and actions taken by government, businesses and individuals had implications for privacy. In response to the pandemic, an additional privacy survey was conducted in early April, several weeks after the first physical distancing rules were applied in all Australian states and territories, to understand the impact of these events on Australian attitudes to privacy.

Methodology

Overview

The 2020 survey is the fifth in a series of surveys initiated in 2001. The methodology has evolved over the past two decades to reach a representative sample of Australia’s population. Between 2001 and 2013, all interviews were completed via Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). In 2017, the methodology shifted to a hybrid online/CATI methodology, where 800 surveys were conducted via CATI and 1,000 were completed online, reaching respondents via an online research panel. In 2020, all data was collected online, with 39% of the respondents recruited via telephone (including via human operator and SMS) to ensure it included respondents who are not members of paid, online market research panels.

Questionnaire development

The questionnaire was jointly developed by Lonergan Research and the OAIC. A comprehensive phase of cognitive and pilot testing was undertaken to evaluate the questionnaire from a respondent perspective and ensure that the questions were clear, unambiguous and interpreted in the manner intended.

Questionnaire length, sample size and modularisation

The 2017 survey was 30 minutes in length. It was split into 3 sections (modules) and each respondent was asked to answer 2 of those 3 modules. Average length of interview per respondent was 20 to 30 minutes.

In 2020, the total survey length was increased to 40 minutes. The shift to a completely online data collection methodology enabled quicker completion of the survey and the expansion of the questionnaire from 49 questions in 2017 to 76 in 2020.

The goal in 2020 was to replicate a sample size of n=1,500, but without the survey fatigue issues of a 40-minute survey. To achieve this, the survey was divided into 5 modules of questions, of which 4 could be answered by any adult 18 or over in Australia. The fifth was only answered by parents or carers of children aged 17 years and under. Each module was around 8 to 10 minutes in length. Respondents were encouraged and incentivised to answer multiple modules, however they were not permitted to answer more than 2 modules in any given day. Modules 1 and 2 were linked, as were modules 3 and 4. Respondents taking a break after the completion of one part of a linked module were required to complete the second part of that module as a priority. Beyond this, respondents were allocated to the module where their combination of age, gender and location had the fewest responses, or randomly allocated to a module if these were even.

Quotas were applied for the first 4 modules, representative of the general population in Australia, and a minimum sample size of 1,500 respondents was reached for each module. Quotas representative of the population of parents in Australia were applied for the fifth module.

 

Total unique respondents

Module 1 & 2

Module 3 & 4

Module 5 (parents)

Recruited via phone

1,043

555

561

244

Recruited online

1,645

955

948

545

Total

2,688

1,510

1,509

789

Sampling

Due to the increasing ownership of mobile phones and the decline of landline phones, the mix of landline and mobile numbers has changed over time; 30% of numbers were mobile numbers in 2013, 80% in 2017 and 100% in 2020.

Data calibration of trend analysis

Data collection for the survey has migrated from pure CATI (2013) to mixed CATI and online (2017) to pure online (2020). This change in methodology can impact results. To allow fair analysis of trend data, a calibration of the data was applied to historic data to allow trend comparisons.

Trends from 2017 to 2020 are established by comparing online data to online data (with the 2017 online data reweighted to be representative by age, gender and location in isolation to the CATI data). Trends from 2013 to 2017 were established by comparing CATI data to CATI data (with a separate set of weights applied to the 2017 CATI data). Trends prior to 2013 were as reported.

Historic trend data may therefore differ from data published in previous years. Further calibrations should not be necessary for future waves of the survey, assuming an online data collection methodology is maintained.

Fieldwork

The survey fieldwork started on 17 February 2020 and was completed on 16 March 2020. The recruitment via phone was conducted by a combination of SMS and human interviewers. Human operators are essential to maximise response rates. Their role is to build rapport, explain the importance of the survey and maximise the trust respondents have in clicking on the SMS link. Where appropriate, they discussed the prize draw incentive associated with this study [1]. The interviewers had the capability to send (or resend) an SMS with a unique link or an email if the respondent preferred it. All telephone interactions with respondents were conducted by the fieldwork team at Lonergan offices in the Sydney CBD. The SMS and email contained broad information about the survey, the survey link and opt-out messaging. Responses to both were monitored by both an AI (to ensure opt-outs were actioned immediately) and a human to address any more complex queries.

Additional COVID-19 survey

The additional survey measuring attitudes to privacy specifically in the context of Australians adapting to COVID-19 social distancing and self-isolation measures was conducted among 1,004 members of a research panel between Tuesday 7 April and Thursday 9 April 2020. The data was weighted to the latest population estimate by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This survey was conducted online, solely using an online research panel. This data is reported in Chapter 12 of this report.

Glossary

Statistics shown in this report are regularly compared across demographic groups. The standard format to compare these in this report is as in the following example, where ‘cf.’ is an abbreviation used to introduce the comparison.

  • Example: The privacy of information and data when choosing a digital service is much more important to older Australians than younger ones (50+ years 90%; cf. 35-49 years 79%, 18-34 years 79%).

Part 1: Introduction to privacy

What ‘privacy’ means to Australians

Respondents were asked to describe in their own words what privacy means to them. Thematically, there are 6 main groups of responses:

  • the idea of keeping one’s information private and confidential (41%)
  • the idea of having control over one’s information (27%)
  • the concept of protection against harmful practices and security (19%)
  • the idea of living free from interference and maintaining one’s lawful right to be left alone (18%)
  • the idea of not having one’s information shared or sold without permission (11%), and
  • the right to security and respect (11%).

Figure 1: What privacy means to Australians (unprompted, categorised by researchers)

image002

B1. In your own words, please tell me what ‘privacy’ means to you? Please be specific in terms of what this covers — unprompted. Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,451)

Figure 1: Long Text Description

Privacy is more likely to mean having control over personal information to Australians with a higher level of education and higher income earners. For 1 in 3 (31%) Australians with a household income over $100k, privacy means having control over personal information; this compares with 28% of those earning $70-$99k and only 25% of those earning less than $70k.

Those in regional areas are also more likely to mention the idea of control (32%); only 25% of those in metropolitan areas mentioned the idea of control.

Character representing a person aged 50 years or over and dialogue boxes with statistics showing that privacy is more likely to evoke the right to be left alone to older Australians.

Twenty-one percent of Australians aged 50 and over feel that privacy means the right to be left alone, and 17% mentioned the idea of not having one’s information shared or sold to a third party. Younger Australians are less likely to associate these ideas with privacy: 16% of those aged 35-49 and 17% of those aged 18-34 mentioned the right to be left alone; only 7% of Australians aged 35-49 and 5% of Australians aged 18-34 mentioned the idea of not having one’s information shared or sold to a third party.

The most common words used by Australians in their response are information, personal, privacy and shared. However, the relatively high use of words like consent, disclose, permission, secure, access and right are evidence that Australians are considering many important concepts in their responses.

Figure 2: What privacy means to Australians (word cloud)

Word cloud of responses to "Tell me what Privacy means to you"
Biggest words are 'information', 'personal', 'Privacy', 'means', 'private'

B1. In your own words, please tell me what ‘privacy’ means to you? Please be specific in terms of what this covers. Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,451)

Figure 2: Long Text Description

The importance of privacy

The majority of Australians (70%) see the protection of personal information as an important issue and a major concern in their life. Although privacy is important across most demographic groups, there are variations by age and level of technology adoption. Older Australians are more likely to value protection of their personal information highly, with 73% of those aged 50 years and over feeling that this is a major concern in their life. This compares with 68% of those aged 35-49 and 66% of those aged 18-34 who feel that protection of their personal information is a major concern.

Figure 3: Percentage of Australians concerned about personal information protection

image005

B2_1. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 3: Long Text Description

Early adopters of technology are the most likely to strongly agree that protecting their personal information is a major concern in their life – 2 in 5 (40%) early adopters strongly agree, which compares with an average of 30% among the Australian general population.


Early adopters of technology

The speed at which Australians adopt technology often influences their attitude and behaviour towards privacy, particularly early adopters of technology. Five percent of the population are early adopters who are the first to try a new technology. Early adopters are the most likely to have a very good to excellent knowledge of data protection (53%); in contrast, 23% of the Australian general population rate their knowledge of data protection as ‘excellent’.

The importance of privacy when choosing a digital service

Concerns around privacy of information are even more prevalent in the digital space. Eighty-four percent of Australians consider the privacy of their information to be extremely or very important when choosing a digital service (including 54% who say it is extremely important).

The privacy of information and data when choosing a digital service is more important to older Australians than younger ones. Younger Australians aged 18-34 are the least likely to feel this is ‘extremely important’ (29%), compared with the Australian average of 54% who feel that privacy is important when choosing a digital service.

Figure 4: Importance of privacy when choosing a digital service

image007

A2. Thinking of choosing a digital service, how important is the privacy of your information and data when choosing a digital service (e.g. any app or program on a phone or laptop)? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 4: Long Text Description

At the time of choosing which app or program to download, Australians consider the privacy of their data to be more important than all other considerations such as quality, convenience or price. More than half of Australians (55%) rank ‘my data privacy’ as the most or second most important element at the time of choosing a digital service, making privacy far more important to Australians than the reliability of the service or app (35% rank this first or second).

Younger Australians, aged 18-24, are less likely to rank ‘my data privacy’ in the top 3 most important elements (54%). Older Australians, especially those aged 65 and over (80%), are much more likely to place ‘my data privacy’ in their top 3.

Figure 5: Importance of aspects when choosing an app or program to download

image008

A1. Please rank each of the following in order of importance when choosing which app or program to download. Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 5: Long Text Description

On an unprompted basis, the top reasons for considering data privacy important at the time of choosing a digital service are privacy and protection of personal information (22%), ownership and control of access to the personal information (22%), concerns such as fear of scams, hacks and fraud (21%) and personal harm/security (11%).

Figure 6: Reasons privacy is important in digital services

image009

 

A3. Why do you say that? - Unprompted (After levels of importance of privacy at the time of choosing a digital service). Base: Australians 18+ who consider the privacy of their information quite to extremely important (n=1,385)

Figure 6: Long Text Description

Incidence of negative privacy experiences

The majority of Australians (59%) have experienced problems with the handling of their personal information in the past 12 months. Most occurrences relate to unwanted marketing communications, with 43% receiving unsolicited direct marketing without consent or that they were not able to unsubscribe from. Thirty-one percent have had their personal information collected (with or without consent) when this was not required to deliver the service.

The majority of Australians (59%) have experienced problems with the handling of their personal information in the past 12 months.

Shape of Australia filled with crowd of people and statistic showing the percentage of people who have experienced problems with the handling of their personal information.

Figure 7: Percentage of Australians who experienced mishandling of personal information

image011

A9. Have you experienced any of the following types of problems with how your personal information was handled in the past 12 months? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 7: Long Text Description

Half of Australians aged 50 and over (49%) have experienced problems with how their personal information was handled because of unwanted marketing communications. This is only true of 2 in 5 (42%) Australians aged 35-49 and 35% of Australians aged 18-34.

Graphic showing the percentage of people who have experienced problems with how their personal information was handled by age group.

Males (34%) and people aged 18-34 (35%) are the most likely to report that their information was collected when it was not required to deliver the service. Females (27%) are less likely to report this happening, as are those aged 35-49 (27%) and those aged 50 and over (30%).

One in 2 males (50%) experienced problems other than marketing, while only 2 in 5 (40%) females reported the same.


Breakout box defining digital data practices.

Digital data practices

The term ‘digital data practices’ is used throughout the survey and this report to encompass a range of online activities involving personal information and user data, including location tracking, targeted advertising and selling or sharing information with third parties.

Early adopters of new technology are more likely to have experienced a problem with how their personal information was handled (79%), compared to 58% of those who adopt technologies later.

Incidence of data-driven advertising

Australians believe most businesses use a variety of data-driven advertising practices, which potentially have an impact on their privacy. The practices most commonly believed to be occurring include:

  • targeting ads to people who visit their website (78% think more than half of businesses do so)
  • targeting ads based on spending habits (68% think more than half of businesses do so), and
  • targeting ads based on location data (63% think more than half of businesses do so).

Older Australians are more likely than their younger counterparts to believe that most businesses target ads to people who have visited their website. Fifty-seven percent of those aged 50 and over reported this, while 53% of those aged 35-49 and less than half (46%) of those aged 18-34 believe that most businesses target ads to people who have visited their website. Late adopters of new technology (42%) are also more likely to believe businesses target ads to people who have visited their website, compared with just 39% of early adopters.

Graphic showing the percentage of those who feel that most businesses target ads to people who have visited their website broken down by age.

Targeted advertising based on audio conversations recorded by phones, computers or home assistants is believed to be occurring less often than any other practice. However, 40% believe half or more businesses do this. The proportion of people who believe no business targets ads using the listed data practices is very low, ranging from 2% to 5%.

Figure 8: Beliefs around the proportion of businesses that use targeted advertising techniques

image015

A18. How many Australian businesses do you think do each of the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 8: Long Text Description

image016

Compared with 2017 (63%), a similar proportion of Australians (62%) are likely to think that all or most smartphone apps collect information about the people who use them, a finding that is consistent across all demographics.

Figure 9: Beliefs around the proportion of smartphone apps that collect information about people who use them — by year

image017

A19_2020 / Q24_2017. Proportion of smart phone apps that collect information about people who use them. Base: Australians 18+ (n=1510 in 2020, n=711 in 2017)

Figure 9: Long Text Description

Perceived privacy risks

Australian views about privacy risks related to the use of personal data have shifted since 2017, as some digital data practices have become more widespread and evolved in scale and accuracy. The biggest risks identified in 2020 are ‘identity theft/fraud’ (76%) and ‘data security/data breaches’ (61%).

This question was unprompted in 2017 and therefore the percentages and data are not strictly comparable. However, in 2017, identity theft/fraud was less likely to be mentioned as a major risk than online services and social media sites (27% for social media in 2017 followed by 17% for identity theft/fraud).

Figure 10: Biggest privacy risks Australians are facing today

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A8. What do you think are the biggest privacy risks that face people today? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 10: Long Text Description

Ninety percent of those aged 50 and over consider ‘fraud and breaches’ as some of the biggest risks to their privacy. Fewer feel the same way among 35-49-year-olds (84%) and 18-34-year-olds (75%). Similarly, Australians aged 50 and over (49%) are more likely to consider ‘sending information overseas’ among the biggest privacy risks that Australians face today. This compares with 35% of those aged 35-49 and 34% of those aged 18-34 who feel that ‘sending information overseas’ is one of the biggest risks.

Graphic showing proportions by age of those who think identity theft or fraud and data breaches or security are the biggest threat to privacy.

A quarter (24%) of early adopters of new technologies feel that ‘workplace privacy’ is one of the biggest risks – this is only true among 17% of later adopters.

Levels of comfort with data practices

Australians are concerned about digital data practices such as information sharing (where personal information or user data is passed from one organisation to another for government, commercial or other purposes), location tracking and targeted advertising. Their level of discomfort with some of these practices is high, consistent with the belief that the practices are widespread and create considerable risks such as identity theft.

Comfort with information sharing by organisation type

Just over a third (36%) of Australians are comfortable with government agencies sharing their personal information with other Australian Government agencies, while 40% are uncomfortable with this. Australians are far less likely to be comfortable with government agencies sharing their personal information with businesses in Australia (15% comfortable, 70% uncomfortable) and businesses sharing their personal information with other Australian organisations (13% comfortable, 70% uncomfortable).

Note: Comfort is used when assessing how people feel about various actions. Trust is used when assessing how people feel about various organisations. There is some crossover with questions about organisations combining comfort and trust responses. Confidence is an alternative description for trust with respect to organisations.

Australians are more likely to be comfortable (36%) with government agencies sharing information with other government agencies now, compared with 30% in 2017. Similarly, the proportion of people who are uncomfortable with this practice (40% in 2020) has decreased since 2017 (45%).

Figure 11: Comfort with information sharing by organisation type

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B14. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with… Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 11: Long Text Description 

Figure 12: Comfort with government agencies sharing information with other Australian government agencies over time

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B14_2020 / Q14C_2017. And how comfortable or uncomfortable are you with government agencies sharing information with other government agencies? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506 in 2020, n=717 in 2017)

Figure 12: Long Text Description

Comfort with digital platforms’ data practices

At least half of Australians are uncomfortable (and 3 in 10 very uncomfortable) with digital platforms and other online businesses like social media sites:

  • tracking their location through their mobile or web browser (62% uncomfortable, including 37% very uncomfortable)
  • keeping databases of information on what they have said and done online (62% uncomfortable, including 36% very uncomfortable), and
  • targeting advertising based on what they have said and done online (58% uncomfortable, including 31% very uncomfortable).

Figure 13: Comfort with digital platforms’ data practices

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A16. How comfortable are you with each of the following data practices? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 13: Long Text Description

There are variations in levels of discomfort with digital practices across age demographics. In general, older Australians are less comfortable and younger Australians relatively more comfortable with each practice. Australians aged 65 years and older are equally uncomfortable with each of the identified data practices:

  • 74% are uncomfortable with location tracking (including 47% very uncomfortable)
  • 75% are uncomfortable with businesses keeping databases on what they have said online (including 46% very uncomfortable), and
  • 73% are uncomfortable with targeted advertisements (including 45% very uncomfortable).
  • Those aged 65 and over are most likely to be very uncomfortable with each practice:
  • 45% are very uncomfortable with digital platforms/online businesses targeting advertising based on what they have said and done online
  • 46% are very uncomfortable with digital platforms/online businesses keeping databases of information on online behaviour, and
  • 47% are very uncomfortable with digital platforms/online businesses tracking their location through their mobile or web browser.

In comparison:

  • only 20% of Australians aged 18-24 are very uncomfortable with targeted advertising by digital platforms/online businesses
  • 20% of 18-24-year-olds are very uncomfortable with digital platforms/online businesses keeping databases of online behaviour, and
  • 22% are very uncomfortable with location tracking by digital platforms/online businesses.

Figure 14: High discomfort (% very uncomfortable) with digital platform/online business data practices by age

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A16. How comfortable are you with each of the following data practices? Base: Australians 18-24 (n=108) / 25-34 (n=302) / 35-49 (n=391) / 50-64 (n=383) / 65+ (n=326)

Figure 14: Long Text Description

Respondents were asked to provide other examples of data practices of digital platforms and online businesses they are uncomfortable with. Despite high levels of discomfort with the examples provided, the majority could not think of any other practices they were uncomfortable with (49% nominating nothing or don’t know).

Of those who did nominate an additional practice, the sale, use or exchange of personal information without consent (11%) was most likely to create discomfort, followed by the practices of social media businesses (10%). Some felt discomfort with digital platforms and online businesses (7%) and advertising or spam (7%).

While no Australians aged 18-24, mentioned ‘the sale or use of personal information without consent’ as a concern, they were the most likely to mention ‘social media’ (21%). Other age groups were similarly likely to mention ‘sale or use of personal information without consent’ (12% of those aged 25-34, 9% of those aged 35-49 and 14% of those aged 50).

In contrast, likelihood of concerns about social media decreases with age: 14% of those aged 25-34; 9% of those aged 35-49 and 7% of those aged 50 over. (These are unprompted and may be impacted by higher levels of salience of social media as well as higher levels of concern.)

General acceptance of data practices

Most Australians (58%) agree it is fair enough they share some information if they want to use a digital service and, if they have to receive any ads, they’d prefer that they are targeted to them (48%). However, they are concerned if personal information is collected when it is not required to deliver the service (Figure 7). Eighty-one percent of Australians consider an organisation asking them for personal information that does not seem relevant to the purpose of the transaction to be misuse. (Figure 19).

Figure 15: How Australians feel about data privacy

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B6_1 & B6_3. Thinking about data privacy, do you agree or disagree with the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 15: Long Text Description

Levels of comfort by purpose and organisation

Business use of personal information

Overall levels of comfort with data practices vary according to the type of information collected, the organisation involved and the purpose behind it. Commercial profiling activities generally drive higher levels of discomfort among Australians than government data practices. For example:

  • 56% are uncomfortable with a business collecting information from consumers’ mobile devices to decide on location and content of billboards/outdoor advertising
  • 55% are uncomfortable with a business creating profiles about consumers based on data collected about them, and
  • 53% are uncomfortable with a business combining data about their customers (for example, loyalty card transaction history) with other data (for example, IP address, type of browser used) to better profile their customers.

Older Australians are the most likely to be uncomfortable with each of the above practices; in particular, 66% of those aged 50 and over are very uncomfortable with businesses creating profiles about consumers based on data collected about them. This compares with 55% of Australians aged 35-49 and 40% of Australians aged 18-34 who feel the same way.

Early adopters of technology are the most likely to be comfortable with the creation of consumer profiles (32% somewhat comfortable or very comfortable), which compares with 17% of later adopters. Those who don’t trust the social media industry are far more likely to be uncomfortable with the creation of consumer profiles (67%) than those who do (26%).

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Figure 16: Levels of comfort of Australians with business use of data

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B15. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with …? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 16: Long Text Description

Government use of personal information

Government use of personal data is much less likely to make Australians uncomfortable. Of the data practices listed, Australians are just as likely to be comfortable (37%) as uncomfortable (34%) with a government body using biometrics and smart technologies for the delivery of services (for example, to verify people’s identity by phone).

The majority of Australians are more likely to be generally comfortable with other practices, such as law enforcement using facial recognition and video surveillance to identify suspects (58% are comfortable, 23% uncomfortable) and a government body using surveillance for public safety (56% are comfortable, 22% uncomfortable).

Those most concerned about their privacy are more likely to be uncomfortable with these practices than average. Twenty-seven percent of those for whom protecting personal information is a major concern in life are uncomfortable with law enforcement using facial recognition, 26% with surveillance for public safety and 38% with the use of biometrics to deliver services.

Figure 17: Levels of comfort of Australians with government bodies/law enforcement using data

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B15. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with …? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 17: Long Text Description

Government use of personal information for research purposes and policy development

When it comes to a government agency using the personal information that was provided to them for research or service and policy development, 40% of Australians are comfortable with this and 27% are not. This result is generally consistent with the 2017 survey (up 2% comfortable and down 3% uncomfortable).

Figure 18: Comfort with personal information provided to government agencies and departments being used for research, service development or policy development purposes

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B16_2020 / Q11_2020. How comfortable or uncomfortable would you be with the personal information that you’ve provided to government agencies and departments being used for research, service development or policy development purposes? Base: 2020 (n=1,506)/ 2017 (n=704)

Figure 18: Long Text Description

What Australians consider a misuse of personal information

The vast majority of Australians (between 72% and 84%) consider all of the data practices measured to be a misuse of their personal information. Among the most likely practices to be considered a misuse (84%) is an organisation using personal information in ways that cause harm, loss or distress.

More than 4 in 5 Australians (84%) consider supplying information to an organisation for a specific purpose and the organisation using it for another purpose to be misuse.

A similar percentage (81%) consider an organisation asking them for personal information that doesn’t seem relevant to the purpose of the transaction and recording information on the websites they visit without their knowledge to be a misuse. This is particularly the case if the tracking of online activity leads to the price of a good or service being varied (79%).

Seventy-nine percent of Australians consider an organisation inferring information about them (for example, sexual orientation, mental health, political views) based on what they do online to be misuse.

Eighty-three percent of Australians feel their personal devices listening to their conversations and sharing data with other organisations without their knowledge is misuse, as well as an organisation collecting information about them in ways that they would not expect (for example, an app scanning information about other apps used on a phone). Unexpected collection of information is most likely to be considered a misuse by those aged 50 and over (88%).

Australians are just as likely to feel an organisation revealing their information to other customers is a misuse (83%) as an organisation revealing their information to other organisations (82%). Older Australians, aged 50 and over, are the most likely to feel both practices are a misuse. Ninety-two percent consider revealing their information to other customers a misuse, while 90% consider an organisation revealing their information to other organisations a misuse.

In contrast, only 73% of those aged 18-34 consider an organisation revealing their information to other customers a misuse and 74% aged 18-34 consider an organisation revealing their information to other organisations to be a misuse.

Early adopters of new technology are the least likely (74%) to consider sharing information with other organisations to be a misuse of personal information, compared with 84% of later adopters.

Graphic showing the proportion of Australians who regard their personal information being used for other than the purpose or manner it was collected, or revealed to others as a misuse.

Figure 19: Australians’ beliefs that each data practice is a misuse

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B9/B10/B11/B12. B9. Thinking now about the way that your personal information is handled by private or public sector organisations, which of the following instances would you regard to be a misuse of your personal information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 19: Long Text Description

Compared to 2017, for the elements measured in both years, Australians are now more likely to consider each data practice a misuse of their personal information.

The biggest increase is for an organisation asking for information that doesn't seem relevant to the purpose of the transaction (up 7%), followed by supplying information to an organisation for a specific purpose that is used for another purpose (up 5%).

Although less likely to be seen as a misuse, there is a strong upward trend for ‘sends my data to an overseas processing centre’.

Figure 20: Proportion of Australians who consider each data practice is a misuse 2013-2020

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B9/B10/B11_2020. Thinking now about the way that your personal information is handled by private or public sector organisations, which of the following instances would you regard to be a misuse of your personal information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=950). Q12_2017. Which of the following instances would you regard to be a misuse of your personal information? (n=632)

Note: “An organisation reveals my information to other organisations” label in the 2020 ACAPS was previously labelled “An organisation that you haven't dealt with gets hold of your personal information”.

Figure 20: Long Text Description

Sending data overseas

Three-quarters of Australians (74%) consider an organisation sending consumers’ data to an overseas processing centre to be a misuse of personal information. This is a lower level of concern than for other data practices listed. Fewer Australians consider this practice a misuse than all other practices listed, with the exception of employers requesting access to social media accounts from their employees (72%).

Forty-one percent of Australians believe that sending information overseas is one of the biggest privacy risks people face today. Fifty-six percent of Australians are very concerned about organisations sending their customers’ personal information from Australia to overseas. In total, 92% of Australians are somewhat to very concerned about this practice. Australians were just as concerned about this in 2017 (92% concerned) as they are in 2020.

Although older Australians are most likely to feel concerned about this (96%), 4 in 5 (79%) of those 18 to 24 years are concerned.

Figure 21: Concerns of Australians regarding their personal information being sent overseas

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B13. How concerned are you about organisations sending their customers’ personal information from Australia to overseas? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 21: Long Text Description

Despite an increasing proportion of Australians considering their personal information being sent to an overseas processing centre to be a misuse, Australians are no more concerned about this now than they were in 2007.

Figure 22: Concerns of Australians regarding their personal information being sent overseas

 

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B13. How concerned are you about organisations sending their customers’ personal information
from Australia to overseas? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 22: Long Text Description

Likelihood to take action to protect one’s privacy

Three-quarters (75%) of Australians care enough about the protection of their personal information to ‘actually do something about it’ and only 30% believe it is too much effort to protect the privacy of their data (cf. 42% disagree). The belief that it’s too much effort is highest among older Australians, aged 50 and over (77%).

Younger Australians are less likely to care enough to take action to protect the privacy of their information and are more likely to agree it is too much effort to protect the privacy of their data.

Early adopters are more likely to strongly agree that they care enough about protecting their personal information to actually do something about it (38%; cf. average 27%).

Graphic showing the proportions of Australians who care enough to take action to protect their privacy by age.

Figure 23: Australians’ beliefs about protecting their data

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A7_3. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 23: Long Text Description

Australians’ levels of knowledge about privacy

Almost a quarter (23%) of Australians rate their levels of knowledge about privacy as excellent or very good, whereas 40% rate their knowledge as fair to poor. There is a strong correlation by age, with younger Australians aged 18-34 more likely to rate their knowledge as excellent or very good (29%). Older Australians are less likely to rate their knowledge as excellent or good, with 25% of those aged 35-49, 21% of those aged 50-64 and 15% of those aged 65+ doing so.

Early adopters of technology are far more likely to rate their knowledge as excellent or very good (53%), compared with 23% of all Australians.

Figure 24: Australians’ knowledge of data protection and privacy rights

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A4. Before today, how would you rate your knowledge of data protection and privacy rights? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 24: Long Text Description

Australians have a very strong understanding of why they should protect their personal information (85% agree) but are less sure how they can do this (49% agree). Three in 5 (59%) care about data privacy, but don’t know what to do about it.

Figure 25: Australians’ beliefs on protecting their personal information

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A7. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following
statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 25: Long Text Description

Younger Australians (18-34) are more likely to know how to protect their personal information (54%), as are early adopters (72%). Less than half (47%) of later adopters know how to protect their personal information. Similarly, 51% of those aged 35-49 feel they know how to protect their personal information and only 2 in 5 (43%) of those aged 50 and over feel the same way.

image038

Actions Australians are taking to protect their privacy

Although 3 in 5 Australians say they are unsure about how to protect their privacy, many are already undertaking a range of data protection activities. At some point, 57% of Australians have deleted an app and another 57% have denied an app permission to access information. In total, 70% of Australians have done either or both. Other privacy protection measures Australians have taken include reading a privacy policy in full (29% of Australians have done this), requesting that their personal information is deleted (23% of Australians have done this) and changing provider (13% of Australians have done this).

Younger Australians are the most likely to have changed provider (17% of 18-34-year-olds have done so), as opposed to 12% among other Australians. Older Australians are the most likely to have given up on using a service out of concern for their privacy with 6% of those aged 50 or over, as opposed to 2% among other Australians.

Figure 26: Actions taken by Australians out of concern for their data privacy

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A11. Have you ever done any of the following out of concern for your data privacy? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 26: Long Text Description

Over half of Australians often or always check that a website is secure before providing personal information (56%) and clear browsing and search history (51%). A significant minority often or always adjust privacy settings on a social networking website (46%), turn off GPS or location sharing on a mobile device (44%) and shred documents (41%).

Three in 10 or fewer often or always turn off smart devices (30%), choose an app or software because it had better privacy practices (30%), ask public or private sector organisations why they need their information (27%) or provide false personal details (13%).

Figure 27: Australians’ participation in data protection activities

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A12. How often do you participate in the following activities …? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 27: Long Text Description

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Older Australians aged 50 and over are significantly more likely than their younger counterparts to always or often shred documents (53%) and ask public or private sector organisations why they need their information (31%).

A third (32%) of Australians aged 35-49 reported that they often or always shred documents and a similar proportion of those aged 18-34 reported likewise (32%). Just under a quarter of those aged 35-49 (24%) and those aged 18-34 (24%) often or always ask public or private sector organisations why they need their information. Younger Australians aged 18-34 are the least likely to provide false personal details (25%).

image042

Younger Australians are much more likely than their older counterparts to often or always use an ad blocker, VPN, privacy-focused web search engine or incognito mode when browsing (40%), or to adjust privacy settings on social networking websites (55%). Thirty percent of those aged 35-49 and 27% of those aged 50 and over always use an ad blocker, VPN or privacy-focused web search engine or incognito mode when browsing.

image043

Half of females (50%) often or always adjust privacy settings on social networking websites, while only 2 in 5 (42%) of males do likewise. Females are significantly more likely (49%) than males (39%) to ‘often, or always turn off GPS or location sharing on mobile devices’. However, females are less likely (28%) than males (36%) to ‘often, or always use an ad blocker, VPN, privacy-focused web search engine or incognito mode when browsing’. A quarter of females (25%) never use these tools.

Graphic showing likeliness to often or always adjust privacy settings on social media or turn off locartion sharing by gender.

Early adopters of new technology are twice as likely (25%) compared to the national average (13%) to provide false personal information. Early adopters are also significantly more likely than the average Australian to always or often participate in the following activities to protect their privacy:

  • turn off smart devices (53%), compared with a national average of 30%
  • ask a public or private sector organisation why they need their information (42%), compared with a national average of 27%
  • read privacy policies before providing personal information (49%), compared with a national average of 33%
  • choose an app or software because it had better privacy practices (46%), compared with a national average of 30%
  • adjust privacy settings on social networking websites (57%), compared with a national average of 46%, and
  • choose not to deal with an organisation because of concerns regarding privacy (41%), compared with a national average of 31%.

Compared to 2017, Australians are less likely to take any of these measures often or always, with the exception of refusing to provide personal information (up 6%) and providing false personal details (up 3%).

The behaviours with the largest declines since 2017 are asking public or private sector organisations why they need your information (down 16%), choosing not to use an app on a mobile device because of concerns over handling your personal information (down 13%), shredding documents (down 11%) and adjusting privacy settings on a social networking website (down 10%).

Figure 28: Measures of protection of privacy always or often taken in 2017 and in 2020

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A12_2020. In order to protect your personal information how often do you ...? (n=1,150) / Q21_2017. The following questions are about things you might have done. To protect your personal information how often, if ever, do you? (n=717)

Figure 28: Long Text Description

Levels of control over privacy

Almost 9 in 10 Australians (87%) want more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal information (2% do not). Currently, 1 in 3 Australians (34%) feel in control of their privacy, and 1 in 3 (34%) do not.

Older Australians are less likely to feel in control of their data privacy. A quarter (27%) of Australians aged 50 and over feel in control, as do 35% of those aged 35-49 and 43% of those aged 18-34. Early adopters (64%) are twice as likely as others (32%) to feel in control of their data privacy.

image046

Almost half of Australians (46%) believe that if they want to use a service, they have to accept what the service does with their data (30% disagree).

Sentiment is divided on the statement ‘none of our personal information is private anymore, we need to get used to it’. A similar proportion of Australians agree (38%) as disagree (39%). Younger Australians 18-34 are the most likely to agree with this statement (43%) and the least likely to disagree (27%).

However, younger Australians are also more likely to take control in the digital realm by adjusting settings on social media, using ad blockers, VPNs and privacy-focused web search engines or choosing an app or software because it has better privacy practices. However, they are less likely to shred documents or to ask public or private sector organisations why they need their information. This indicates that context is important, with younger Australians more likely to take control of their privacy in a digital environment, whereas older Australians are more likely to take control outside the digital realm.

A similar proportion of Australians agree (38%) as disagree (39%) with the statement that ‘none of our personal information is private anymore, we need to get used to it’. Younger Australians 18-34 are the most likely to agree with this statement (43%) and the least likely to disagree (27%).

Figure 29: Australians’ beliefs on data privacy

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B2. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? B6. Thinking about data privacy, do you agree or disagree with the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 29: Long Text Description

Australians are also split as to whether or not privacy will end up costing them more due to excessive red tape for businesses: 27% agree with this sentiment, whereas 23% disagree. There is a strong gender split, with 33% of males believing they will end up paying more due to privacy, compared with 21% of females. The majority of Australians (58%) don’t understand what businesses do with the information they collect about them.

Figure 30: Australians’ beliefs about data privacy and businesses

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B6. Thinking about data privacy, do you agree or disagree with the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 30: Long Text Description

Over half (53%) of Australians are satisfied with the amount of personal data they can access and use to receive appropriate goods and services, while a quarter (26%) are dissatisfied. 

Younger Australians are more likely than their older counterparts to feel dissatisfied with the degree to which they can access personal data. A third (32%) of those aged 18-34 feel dissatisfied about this, while 31% of those aged 35-49 and only 17% of those aged 50 and over are dissatisfied with the degree to which they can access personal data.

Older Australians are the most likely to not know or be unsure about the extent to which they can access and use their personal data (26%). One in 5 (21%) of Australians aged 35-49 and 16% of Australians aged 18-34 do not know or are unsure about the extent to which they can access and use their personal data.

Figure 31: The extent to which Australians can access and use data

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A20. Extent you can access and use your data to receive appropriate goods and services. Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 31: Long Text Description

Two-thirds (64%) of Australians are unaware that they can request access to their personal information from businesses and government agencies. Over half (53%) of Australians aged 18-34 years and late adopters of new technology (56%) are unaware that they can request to access their personal information from businesses and government agencies. This compares to 45% of those aged 35-49 years and 48% of those aged over 50. Early adopters (32%) are less likely to be unaware of this privacy right, as are those among the last (51%), middle (47%) and first (48%) to adopt technology.

Over half (53%) of Australians aged 18-34 years and late adopters of new technology (56%) are unaware that they can request to access their personal information from businesses and government agencies. This compares to 45% of those aged 35-49 years and 48% of those aged over 50. Early adopters (32%) are less likely to be unaware of this privacy right, as are those among the last (51%), middle (47%) and first (48%) to adopt technology.

Compared to 2017, the same proportion of Australians (36% in 2017) are aware that they can request access to their personal information held by businesses and government agencies.

Figure 32: Percentage of Australians who are aware they can request access to personal information

 

image050

A23. Are you aware that you can request to access your personal information from businesses and government agencies? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 32: Long Text Description

Trust in organisations

Half (49%) of Australians feel that most of the organisations they deal with are transparent about the way they use their personal information, while close to 1 in 5 (17%) do not.

Levels of trust in personal information handling vary substantially by organisation type. Australians consider the social media industry the most untrustworthy in how they protect or use their personal information (70% consider this industry untrustworthy), followed by search engines (55% untrustworthy) and apps (54% untrustworthy).

Figure 33: Australians’ beliefs on how trustworthy organisations are with personal information

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B8. Thinking now about trustworthiness. How trustworthy or untrustworthy would you say the following organisations are with regards to how they protect or use your personal information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 33: Long Text Description

Since 2007, there has been a general downward trend in trust in most of the categories presented. Trust in companies in general is down by 13%. Trust in Federal Government departments is down 14%, with a steady decline in trust over the past 13 years.

Figure 34: Proportion of Australians considering each organisation trustworthy from 2007 to 2020

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B8_2020 / Q8_2017. Thinking now about trustworthiness. How trustworthy or untrustworthy would you say the following organisations are with regards to how they protect or use your personal information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=950)

Figure 34: Long Text Description

Part 2: Privacy legislation

Awareness of the Privacy Act

Only 7% of Australians could name the Privacy Act as the main law that promotes and protects the privacy of individuals in Australia on an unprompted basis. Fifty-eight percent of Australians have heard of it but didn’t know its name and 1% named it incorrectly. A third (34%) cannot recall ever having heard the name of this law.

While the proportion of those who can name the Privacy Act is consistent across age groups, those who have never heard of it are more likely to be younger. Forty-three percent of those aged 18-34 have never heard of it, as have 34% of those aged 35-49 and 29% of those aged 50 and over. Conversely, those who have heard of it, but don’t know the name, are likely to be older. Sixty-three percent of those aged 50 and over have heard of it but don’t know the name, as have 59% of those aged 35-49 and 5long 1% of those aged 18-34.

Figure 35: Percentage of Australians who are aware of the Privacy Act

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A5. Are you aware of the main law that promotes and protect the privacy of individuals in Australia? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 35: Long Text Description

Awareness of organisation types covered by the Privacy Act

Australians have a limited understanding of which businesses are covered by the Privacy Act. Australian Government agencies, medium to large Australian businesses and multinational businesses operating in Australia are covered, whereas small businesses, political parties and representatives, media organisations and businesses recording work-related information about employees are not. The proportion correctly identifying organisation types that are covered ranged from 53% to 63%, whereas the proportion correctly identifying organisation types that are not covered ranged from 13% to 17%. The low proportion of people correctly identifying which business types are not covered is consistent with a population simply assuming that most businesses are covered.

Figure 36: Awareness of sectors covered by the Privacy Act

 

image054

A21. The actions of the Privacy Commissioner are determined by the Federal Privacy Act. Which of the following do you think are covered by the Privacy Act? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 36: Long Text Description

In 2017, this question was only asked of Australians who were aware of the Privacy Commissioner. Among this cohort, a slightly higher proportion are aware in 2020 that political parties (17%) and small businesses (15%) are not covered by the Privacy Act – in 2017, 15% of those aware of the Privacy Commissioner knew that political parties were are not covered and 12% knew that small businesses are not covered.

Figure 37: Awareness of sectors covered by the Privacy Act in 2017 and 2020 – filtered to those aware of the Privacy Commissioner

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A21_2020. The actions of the Privacy Commissioner are determined by the Federal Privacy Act. Which of the following do you think are covered by the Privacy Act? Base: Australians 18+ aware of the Privacy Commissioner (n=761) / Q6B. Which of the following do you think are under the jurisdiction of the Privacy Act? Base: Those aware of the Privacy Commissioner (n=425)

Figure 37: Long Text Description

Organisations that should be covered by the Privacy Act

Almost three-quarters of Australians feel that each of the 4 exempt organisation types should be required to protect personal information in the same ways that government and larger businesses are required to. This desire for inclusion in the Privacy Act is equally high for each sector. Seventy-one percent think small Australian businesses should be included, 72% for media organisations, 73% for businesses collecting work-related information about employees and 74% for political parties and political representatives.

Australians who have a higher knowledge of data protection and privacy rights are more likely to think that some exempt sectors should remain exempt. This is especially true for small Australian businesses, with 28% of those with an excellent knowledge of data protection considering they should not be required to protect personal information in the same ways that government and larger businesses are required to (24% for media organisations, 23% for political parties and 13% for businesses collecting work-related information about employees).

Among those who knew that each of these sectors is not covered by the Privacy Act:

  • 69% believe political parties and representatives should be covered
  • 64% believe businesses collecting work-related information about employees should be covered
  • 61% believe media organisations should be covered
  • 58% believe small Australian businesses should be covered by the Privacy Act.

Figure 38: Belief that each sector should be covered by the Privacy Act

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A22. The following sectors are currently exempt from the Privacy Act. Should they be required to protect your personal information in the same ways that government and larger businesses are required to? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 38: Long Text Description

Awareness of the Privacy Commissioner

Awareness of the Privacy Commissioner was measured on a prompted basis. Half (48%) of Australians know about this role, which is an increase of 4% since 2017.

Australians aged 50 and over are much more likely to be aware of the Privacy Commissioner (55%) as well as Australians with a postgraduate or bachelor’s degree (54%). Fewer than half (47%) of Australians aged 35-49 and just 2 in 5 (38%) of those aged 18-34 are aware of the Privacy Commissioner. Those with lower levels of education are less likely to be aware, with 52% of those with an undergraduate diploma, TAFE or trade certificate and 41% of those whose highest education level is up to Year 12 being aware of the Privacy Commissioner. Australians who are retired (54%) or working (51%) are also much more likely to be aware of the Privacy Commissioner than others. Just a third (34%) of students are aware of the Privacy Commissioner.

Figure 39: Awareness of the Privacy Commissioner over time


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A6_2020. Are you aware that a Privacy Commissioner exists to uphold privacy laws and to investigate complaints concerning the misuse of personal information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=966)
Q6_2017. Were you aware that an Australian Government Privacy Commissioner exists to uphold privacy laws and to investigate complaints concerning the misuse of personal information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=967)

Figure 39: Long Text Description

Entity to whom Australians would report a misuse of privacy

Australians are just as likely to report a misuse of privacy to the police (37%) as the Privacy Commissioner (38%). Among those who are aware that the Privacy Commissioner exists to uphold privacy laws and to investigate complaints concerning the misuse of personal information, 54% would report a misuse to the Privacy Commissioner, well ahead of the police (36%). Conversely, among those previously not aware of the Privacy Commissioner, 22% would report a misuse to the Privacy Commissioner, 38% to the police.

Likelihood to report a misuse to the Privacy Commissioner also increases with knowledge of data protection. Forty-four percent of those with good or excellent knowledge would report a misuse to the Privacy Commissioner, while only 32% of those with fair to poor knowledge would do likewise. Older Australians, aged 50 and over, are more likely to have the Privacy Commissioner as a point of contact for information misuse (51%), whereas just 32% of those aged 35-49 and 25% of those aged 18-34 would report a misuse to the Privacy Commissioner.

Figure 40: Australians’ point of contact to report misuse of personal information

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A10. If you wanted to report misuse of your personal information to someone, who would you be most likely to contact? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 40: Long Text Description

In 2017, this question was asked on an unprompted basis to ensure all relevant categories were uncovered. It changed to a prompted question in 2020. However, based on the relative numbers of people selecting each response, Australians are now more likely to report a misuse to a Privacy Commissioner than to the organisation that was involved or to the police.

Figure 41: Organisations people would report a misuse of personal information to in 2017 and 2020

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A10_2020 prompted. If you wanted to report misuse of your personal information to someone, who would you be most likely to contact? Base: Australians 18+ (n=964)
Q17_2017 unprompted. If you wanted to report misuse of your personal information to someone, who would you be most likely to contact? Australians 18+ (n=967)

Figure 41: Long Text Description

Degree to which Australians feel their privacy is protected

Only a quarter (24%) of Australians feel the privacy of their personal information is well protected and 40% feel it is poorly protected. Similarly, a quarter (24%) feel their location information is well protected, whereas 41% feel it is poorly protected. Australians feel slightly more protected when it comes to electronic communications (28% well protected, 37% poorly protected). The protection of biometric information is the only area where more Australians feel well protected (35%) than poorly protected (27%).

Figure 42: Perception of levels of protection regarding specific privacy rights

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B7. Thinking about legal and other protections. How protected do you feel in regard to the following privacy rights? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 42: Long Text Description

Older Australians, aged 50 and over, tend to be more likely than average to feel that information is poorly protected. A third (32%) feel that biometric information is poorly protected, 45% feel that electronic communications are poorly protected, 49% feel that personal information is poorly protected and half (50%) feel that location information is poorly protected.

The youngest cohort, on the other hand, are the least likely to feel these privacy rights are poorly protected. Eighteen percent of those age 18-34 feel this way about biometric information, 28% for electronic communications, 32% for personal information and 30% for location information.

Demand for greater government protection

The vast majority (83%) of Australians would like the government to do more to protect the privacy of their data. This finding is broadly consistent across most demographic groups, although older Australians are more likely to strongly agree. Fifty-four percent of those aged 50 and over strongly agree, compared with 41% of those aged 35-49 and 36% of those aged 18-34.

Figure 43: Australians’ beliefs that the government should do more to protect the privacy of their data

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B2_6. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? I would like the government to do more to protect the privacy of my data

Figure 43: Long Text Description

While Australians feel poorly protected with regard to specific categories of personal information, they show appetite for higher levels of protection by the government. Those who consider digital services are untrustworthy are much more likely to want more protection from the government. For example, 87% of those who consider the social media industry untrustworthy would like the government to do more about privacy, compared to 75% of those who consider this industry trustworthy.

Figure 44: Australians’ beliefs that the government should do more to protect the privacy of their data – organisation type breakdown

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B2_6. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? I would like the government to do more to protect the privacy of my data

Figure 44: Long Text Description

Additional rights under the Privacy Act

Australians are most likely to believe they should have the right to ask a business to delete their personal information (84%). This is followed by the right to seek compensation in the courts for a breach of privacy (78%), to know when their personal information is used in automated decision-making if it could affect them (77%) and the right to object to certain data practices while still being able to access and use the service (77%).

While fewer Australians believe they should have the right to ask a government agency to delete their personal information, this is still supported by two-thirds (64%) of people.

Figure 45: Australians’ beliefs that they should or should not have specific privacy rights

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A24. Do you believe Australians should or should not have these rights? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 45: Long Text Description

Vulnerable groups and the Privacy Act

Data protection and privacy rights are not only about regulating the activities of specific types of organisations but protecting groups of vulnerable Australians. Two-thirds of Australians believe that vulnerable groups, such as children under 12 years old (68%) and 13-17 years old (64%), elderly Australians (67%) and people with an intellectual disability (67%), require additional protection under the Privacy Act. A significant minority of Australians also support the additional protection of young adults (42%), people who speak English as a second language (39%) and new migrants to Australia (38%). Older Australians are more likely to think all the listed groups require additional protection.

Figure 46: Groups of Australians that should have additional protection under the Privacy Act

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A25. Which of the following groups of Australians, if any, do you believe require additional protection under the Privacy Act? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 46: Long Text Description

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Privacy policies

Despite the majority (84%) of Australians believing the privacy of their information is important, only a third (31%) of Australians read privacy policies on internet sites and just 1 in 5 (20%) both read them and are confident they understand them.

The main reasons why Australians don’t read privacy policies include their length and complexity. Australians are also using alternative measures to protect their privacy such as deleting apps or denying an app’s permission to access information.

Australians strongly support measures to improve privacy policies by using simple, standard language and including a plain English summary.

Those who read privacy policies are much more likely to actively take steps to ensure the protection of their privacy and personal information. While we cannot establish that reading policies causes people to act, there is certainly a relationship. Privacy policies help Australians understand the privacy implications of using a service. It is therefore crucial that privacy policies are written to be easily understood.

Readership and comprehension of privacy policies online

The majority (84%) of Australians feel privacy of information and data is important when choosing a digital service. However, 69% do not normally read the privacy policy attached to any internet site. Australians are much less likely to have read a privacy policy in full (29%) than to have deleted an app or denied an app permission to access information (57% for both). The proportion who read privacy policies has not changed since 2017.

Figure 47: Proportion of Australians who normally read privacy policies on internet sites

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B20_2020. Do you normally read the privacy policy attached to any internet site? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 47: Long Text Description

Reasons for not reading privacy policies

The key reasons Australians don’t read privacy policies attached to internet sites is because of the length (77%) followed by their complexity (52%). Even among those who normally read the privacy policy attached to a site, 41% sometimes don’t because it is too long and 26% sometimes don’t because it is too hard to read.

Reasons for not reading a privacy policy vary across age groups. Younger Australians are the most likely to not read policies because they are too long with three-quarters (74%) listing this as a reason compared to 58% of the oldest Australians (65+). Half (49%) of older Australians do not read privacy policies because they are too hard to read, they are followed by their younger counterparts with 45% of aged 35-64, 38% of those aged 35-34 and 39% of 18-24-year-olds.

Figure 48: Reasons Australians don’t read privacy policies

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B21. Which of the following describes why you don’t read privacy policies? by B20. Do you normally read the privacy policy attached to any internet site? (n=1506, 486, 1020)

Figure 48: Long Text Description

Comprehension of privacy policies

When Australians do read privacy policies, comprehension difficulties are widespread. Fewer than 2 in 5 Australians (37%) are confident they have understood them when they read them, and 53% are not confident. The remaining 10% never read privacy policies.

Figure 49: Confidence in comprehension of privacy policies after reading

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B22. How confident are you that you have understood a privacy policy after reading it? Base: Australians (n=1506)

Figure 49: Long Text Description


When analysing readership and comprehension together, 1 in 5 Australians (20%) normally read privacy policies and feel confident they have understood them.

Figure 50: Confidence in cofigmprehension of privacy policies after reading – reading habit breakdown
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B20. Do you normally read the privacy policy attached to any internet site? B22. How confident are you that you have understood a privacy policy after reading it? Base: Australians who know whether they normally read privacy policies (n=1,442)

Figure 50: Long Text Description

The impact of privacy policies on behavioural change

Privacy policies impact behaviour. Seventy percent of Australians have taken action after reading a privacy policy. This includes:

  • 44% who chose not to use a service
  • 28% who deleted an app, and
  • 23% who changed the default privacy settings.

Those who normally read privacy policies (84%) are more likely to take action to protect their privacy than those who don’t normally read them (56%). Those who are confident they understand privacy policies are also more likely to take action (74% cf. 67% of those who don’t).

A third (32%) of Australians are more likely to change their default privacy settings after reading a privacy policy. Interestingly, those less confident they understand privacy policies are more likely to change their default privacy settings as a result of reading them (37%; cf. 29% of those who are confident they understand).

Overall, 23% of Australians are likely to trust a site more if they have read the privacy policy, compared to 19% who trust it less.

Twenty percent of Australians are more likely to use a site after reading a privacy policy, compared with 23% who are less likely to use it. Younger Australians (18-34 years) are less likely to use a site (26% compared to 17% more likely). This is more balanced for Australians aged 35-49 with 1 in 5 being both more likely (18%) and less likely (21%) to use the site as a result of reading the policy, and those aged 50+ with 23% being more likely to use and the same proportion (23%) being less likely to use the site after reading the privacy policy.

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Figure 51: Impacts of reading a privacy policy

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B24. What impact, if any, does reading a privacy policy have upon your attitude towards a site? Does it make you… Base: Australians 18+ (n=1506)

Figure 51: Long Text Description

Key features in privacy policies

Australians are most likely to rate ease of comprehension (90%) and ease of navigation (87%) as very important in a privacy policy. Being easily able to find the policy is the third most important point to Australians – 48% find this very important. Being short in length is important to 64%, while just as many (64%) find it important that privacy policies are comprehensive.

Figure 52: Importance of specific attributes of privacy policies to Australians

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B28. How important do you think it is that a privacy policy is… Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 52: Long Text Description

A policy that is easy to understand is equally important to those who normally read policies (89%) and those who don’t (91%), as well as to those who are confident they understand a policy when they read it (89%) and those who are not (92%).

 
Desired content in privacy policies

In terms of the information Australians consider should be covered by privacy policies, they are most likely to want to know what personal information is being collected and held and how it is collected, held and protected. However, the majority of Australians believe all elements should be included, with the exception of how to deal anonymously with the organisation, which just under half (48%) would like to see included.

Figure 53: What Australians think a privacy policy should include

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B27. Some people think that privacy policies should be as short as possible, others think they should be comprehensive. With this in mind, which of the following do you think should be in all privacy policies? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 53: Long Text Description

Improvements to privacy policies

Echoing the desire for privacy policies that are easy to understand, levels of support are very high for 3 improvements tested in the survey: simple language, a plain English summary and use of icons.

The preferred way to improve the current format of privacy policies is the introduction of standard, simple language (87% support), followed by the introduction of a plain English summary at the start of every privacy policy explaining key elements (86% support). The introduction of icons as a visual indication that certain activities are undertaken (for example, if personal information is passed on to third parties or if data is stored overseas) receives comparatively less support (73% agree).

Figure 54: Suggestions to improve privacy policies

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B25. There have been a number of suggestions to improve the privacy policies of Australian organisations. To what extent do you support or oppose each of the following ideas? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1506)

Figure 54: Long Text Description

Those who are not confident they understand privacy policies are marginally more likely to strongly support each measure, implying these improvements appeal to the cohort of Australians most likely to benefit from them.

Figure 55: Suggestions to improve privacy policies among those who don’t understand them

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B25. There have been a number of suggestions to improve the privacy policies of Australian organisations. To what extent do you support or oppose each of the following ideas? Base: Australians 18+ who are not confident they understand privacy policies (n=825)

Figure 55: Long Text Description

Privacy certification

A privacy certification would make certified organisations more trustworthy to three-quarters (74%) of Australians. Privacy certifications would most likely influence the perception of older Australians compared to their younger counterparts. Older Australians consider a certified organisation to be more trustworthy. This is driven by the oldest Australians, with 4 in 5 Australians over 65 years of age (84%) and those aged 50-64 (79%) as well as three-quarters (74%) of those aged 35-49 believing a privacy certification would make certified organisations more trustworthy. This is significantly less likely among Australians aged 18-34, with only 3 in 5 (62%) agreeing.

Figure 56: Impact of privacy certification on trust in organisations

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B26. To what extent would privacy certification make certified organisations more or less trustworthy? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1506)

Figure 56: Long Text Description

Part 3: Location data

Australians are uncomfortable with the use of location tracking and the handling and use of that information. Half (48%) of Australians consider it is one of the biggest privacy risks today, ahead of sending data overseas (41%), surveillance by foreign entities (35%) or Australian entities (26%), profiling (31%) and ID scanning (28%).

Australians are more reluctant to provide their location data (56%) than their address (52%), phone number (50%), date of birth (38%), email address (30%), household composition (27%) or sexual orientation (25%). Similar to other types of personal information, the main reasons for not wanting to provide location data are safety and security, keeping the information private and not wanting to be profiled. Those who are reluctant to provide location information say it is because they do not want people knowing where they live or how to contact them (52%; cf. average 33%).

Nearly two-thirds of Australians (63%) think that at least half of businesses target ads based on location data. Over 2 in 5 Australians (44%) always or often turn off the GPS on their phone.

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A8/A16_3/A18_2/B7_4. Attitudes of Australians towards Location tracking topics. Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506 to 1,510)

Comfort with the use of location data

Two-thirds (62%) of Australians are uncomfortable with digital platforms/online businesses tracking their location through their mobile or web browser. This is higher among females, with two-thirds (65%) feeling uncomfortable compared to males (59%), and highest among older Australians, with three-quarters (72%) feeling uncomfortable compared to only 55% of those aged 18-49 years.

Figure 57: Australians’ comfort with businesses tracking location

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A16. How comfortable are you with each of the following data practices? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1510)

Figure 57: Long Text Description

Protection of location data

Two in 5 Australians (41%) feel their location information stored by organisations or devices (such as their mobile phones) is poorly or very poorly protected by law. Conversely, 24% feel their location information is well or very well protected. Australians are more likely to feel their location information is poorly protected the older they are, with 54% of those aged 65+ and half (48%) of those aged 50-64 years feeling poorly or very poorly protected. This drops to close to 2 in 5 (38%) among those aged 35-49 and down to 30% among 18-34-year-olds.

Figure 58: Protection of location data

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B7. Thinking about legal and other protections. How protected do you feel in regard to the following privacy rights? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1510)

Figure 58: Long Text Description

Part 4: Biometric information

Two-thirds (66%) of Australians are reluctant to provide biometric information to a business, organisation or government agency and a quarter (24%) are more reluctant to provide biometric information than any other type of information. This is higher than unwillingness to provide medical or health information (60% reluctant and 8% most reluctant) and location data (56% reluctant and 6% most reluctant).

Figure 59: Type of information Australians are reluctant to provide to any organisation

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B3. Thinking now about providing your personal information to any business, organisation or government agency, in general, what types of information are you reluctant to provide? B4. And which one of these do you feel most reluctant to provide? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 59: Long Text Description

Levels of reluctance vary depending on the organisation and the purpose of collection, with Australians generally being more comfortable providing biometric information to more trusted organisations in exchange for more personalised services.

Comfort with providing different types of biometric information

Collection of DNA is the type of biometric information most likely to make Australians feel uncomfortable (55% are uncomfortable, including 37% very uncomfortable). Levels of discomfort are higher than levels of comfort when it comes to the collection of all listed biometrics except for fingerprints. Australians tend to be more comfortable with the collection of biometric information that is widely used through smart devices and for government purposes, such as fingerprints (43% comfortable), facial images (35% comfortable) and voice prints (30% comfortable).

Figure 60: How comfortable Australians feel with collection of biometric information

 

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A13. How comfortable are you with the following types of biometric information being collected? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 60: Long Text Description

Trust in private and public sector organisations to collect biometric information

Australians are much more likely to trust government than businesses to collect and use biometric information. Half (48%) consider government trustworthy (compared with 25% untrustworthy), however just 23% consider businesses trustworthy (compared with 40% untrustworthy).

Older Australians aged 65 and over (56%) are more likely than their younger counterparts to find government trustworthy with 2 in 5 (43%) of those aged 50-64 years, half (49%) of those aged 35-64 and only 45% of 18-34 year-olds viewing them as trustworthy. There are no strong differences by age with regard to trust in businesses.

Figure 61: Trustworthiness of organisations using biometric information

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A15. In your opinion, how trustworthy are the following to collect and use biometric information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 61: Long Text Description

When it comes to government use of biometrics, over half are comfortable with law enforcement using facial recognition and video surveillance to identify suspects (58% comfortable, 23% uncomfortable) or a government body using surveillance for public safety (56% comfortable, 22% uncomfortable).

Comfort with providing biometric information for different purposes

Half of Australians are comfortable providing their biometric information to verify their identity to access government services (53% are comfortable, 25% uncomfortable), to do their day to day banking (49% are comfortable, 29% are uncomfortable) or to get on a flight (49% are comfortable, 24% are uncomfortable). It should be noted that the Federal Government and financial institutions are the most trusted organisations with regard to the way they protect or use Australians’ personal information (considered trustworthy by 51% and 50% of Australians respectively).

On the other hand, the majority of Australians are uncomfortable with the collection of their biometric information to shop in a retail store (52% uncomfortable, 25% comfortable), to get into a licensed pub, club, bar/hotel (43% uncomfortable, 31% comfortable) or to verify their identity to access services provided by a business or private organisation (40% uncomfortable, 33% comfortable). This correlates with a lower level of trust in retail, with 42% considering retail stores to be untrustworthy in the way they protect or use personal information.

Between 8% and 17% of Australians are very comfortable with each of the specified uses of biometric information.

At least a quarter of Australians are uncomfortable with each of the data practices listed, including the use of biometrics to access a government service.

Figure 62: How comfortable Australians feel with uses of biometric information

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A14. How comfortable are you with the use of biometric information for the following purposes? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 62: Long Text Description

Protection of biometric data

A third of Australians (35%) feel their biometric information stored by organisations or devices (such as their mobile phones) is well protected by laws and other protections, however 27% feel they are poorly protected. Thirty-eight percent of Australians are more likely to feel neither well protected nor poorly protected (38% neutral).

Younger Australians are more likely to feel their biometric information is well protected, with 45% of those aged 18-34 feeling well protected, this drops to a third (33%) among those aged 35-49 and down again to 3 in 10 among those aged 50-64 (31%) and of those over 65 (28%).

Figure 63: Protection of biometric information

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B7_3. Thinking about legal and other protections. How protected do you feel in regard to the following privacy rights? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 63: Long Text Description

Part 5: Artificial intelligence

Government agencies and private companies are increasingly using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to make decisions that may impact individuals. This has the potential to generate significant opportunities and efficiencies for business, government, and the community. However, the use of these technologies also creates privacy risks particularly where there is a lack of transparency about how personal information is used to make decisions, accountability and human oversight.

Over three-quarters of Australians (77%) consider the use of AI without their knowledge (for example, hiding ads or articles from their social media feed based on race or gender) to be a misuse of their personal information. In fact, a quarter (24%) feel AI is one of the biggest privacy risks facing Australians today. Although this rate is lower than many other potential privacy risks, it is more likely to be of concern among older Australians, with close to 3 in 10 (28%) of those aged 50+ agreeing it is a potential risk. This drops to about a quarter (23%) among those aged 35-49 and to 1 in 5 among 18-34-year-olds.

General attitudes towards AI

Thirty-two percent of Australians disagree that decisions made by AI will be fairer than decisions made by humans. A quarter of Australians (24%) believe decisions made by AI will be fairer than when there is a human involved and a third (34%) believe AI can lead to cost savings.

These beliefs are more widely held by younger Australians. Two in 5 (43%) of younger Australians, aged 18-34, are generally happy for AI to be used if it reduces the costs of products, this drops to 37% among 35-49-year-olds and down to 27% among Australians who are 50 and over. Three in 10 (31%) of those aged 18-34 believe decisions made or assisted by AI will be fairer than decisions made by humans, compared to a quarter (25%) of those aged 35-49 and 17% of those over 50 years. Males are more likely (27%) than females (21%) to believe decisions made or assisted by AI will be fairer than decisions made by a human.

Figure 64: General beliefs about AI technology

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B19. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 64: Long Text Description

Right to know if AI is being used

There is a strong belief (84% agree) that Australians have a right to know if a decision affecting them is made using AI technology. It is most widespread among older Australians with 9 in 10 (91%) of those aged 50 or more agreeing. This drops down to 83% among those aged 35-49 and to three-quarters (75%) for 18-34-year-olds.

Similarly, 78% believe that when AI technology is used to make or assist in making decisions, people should be told what factors and personal information are considered by the algorithm and how these factors are weighted. This attitude is also most widespread among older Australians, with 85% of those aged 50+ years agreeing, compared to three-quarters (76%) of those aged 35-49 and 69% of 18-34-year-olds.

Figure 65: Attitudes towards being informed when AI technology is used

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B19. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 65: Long Text Description

Right to human oversight

Over 4 in 5 (82%) Australians believe people should have a right to have a human review any decision made using AI, even if this costs the organisation money. A similar proportion (79%) believe it is important that there is a human responsible for any decisions made by AI.

Australians 50 years and older are more likely to hold both of these beliefs, with close to 9 in 10 agreeing people should have a right to have a human review (89%) and it is important that there is a human responsible for any decisions made by AI (87%). This drops down to close to 4 in 5 among those 35-49 years old (80% and 78% respectively). Australians aged 18-34 are the least likely to agree with both statements with three-quarters (74%) agreeing people should have the right to have a human review decisions made by AI and 69% agreeing it is important that there is a human being responsible for any decisions made by AI.

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Figure 66: Attitudes towards human oversight of decisions made by AI

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B19. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 66: Long Text Description

Impact of organisation types on trust in AI

Levels of comfort with data practices involving AI vary depending on the level of trust in the organisation involved. Half (49%) of Australians are uncomfortable with public sector organisations using AI to make decisions using their personal information (24% comfortable). This increases to almost 2 in 3 (64% uncomfortable) when private sector organisations are involved (13% comfortable).

However, levels of comfort with data practices involving AI are lower for both sectors compared to other uses of personal information. For example, 40% of Australians are comfortable with government using personal information for research, service development or policy development purposes.

Figure 67: Comfort with organisations using AI to make decisions

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B17. How comfortable do you feel about public sector organisations using AI to make decisions about you, using your personal information? / B18. How comfortable do you feel about private sector organisations using AI to make decisions about you, using your personal information? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 67: Long Text Description

Part 6: Children’s privacy

Australian parents are more likely to be concerned about their children’s privacy than their own and are very supportive of measures to increase the protection of their children’s privacy and educate children on these issues.

Parents provide their children access to connected devices and digital services early in life and many are uncomfortable with businesses’ handling of their children’s personal information.

The majority of parents consider that children should have the right to grow up without being profiled and targeted (84% agree, 59% strongly agree), which is likely to influence the levels of discomfort with data practices that affect children. The increasing opportunities for profiling and targeting children also play a role, with 72% of parents concerned about the increasing privacy risk of internet-connected children’s toys.

 

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Concerns for children’s privacy

Parents are more concerned about their children’s privacy (91% concerned, including 51% very concerned) than for their own (82% concerned, including 37% very concerned).

Figure 68: Parents’ concerns about the protection of personal information

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C5. How concerned are you about the protection of your own personal information? C6. How concerned are you about the protection of the personal information of your child? Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 68: Long Text Description

Parents are particularly uncomfortable with businesses tracking the location of a child (70% uncomfortable) and businesses obtaining personal information about a child and selling it to third parties (69% uncomfortable). Discomfort with both practices is consistent across children of different ages.

Sixty-five percent of parents are uncomfortable with businesses targeting ads to children based on information they have obtained by tracking a child online. This is highest among parents of children aged 10-13 (68%) and 14-17 (69%), compared with 60% of parents of children aged 2-5 and 63% of parents of children aged 6-9.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of parents are uncomfortable with businesses being able to obtain information about a child (such as age, location and interests) and infer sensitive information about them (such as a health condition).

Figure 69: Parents’ levels of comfort with businesses using their child’s personal information

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C14. Still thinking of children’s data privacy. How comfortable are you with each of the following? Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 69: Long Text Description

Children’s access to and ownership of devices

Children tend to first own a laptop, tablet or PC, with almost half (46%) of children aged 6-9 owning their own device. Mobile phone ownership follows, with over half (55%) of those aged 10-13 owning a mobile. Access to home assistant devices and the use of connected toys or devices (for example, fitness trackers or robot toys) are less common.

Figure 70: Children's ownership of devices and social media accounts

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C3. To your knowledge, which of the following do they currently have? Base: Australian parents of children 2-5 years (n=223), 6-9 years (n=173), 10-13 years (n=173), 14-17 years (n=220)

Figure 70: Long Text Description

Use of online accounts and services by children

Around a third (34%) of children aged 10-13 have their own social media account, rising to 73% of those aged 14-17. Half (48%) of children aged 10-13 have their own personal email account, rising to 72% of those aged 14-17. Online gaming accounts, such as Fortnite or Minecraft, peak at ages 10-13, the same age that the use of children’s versions or restricted versions of online services, such as YouTube Kids or Facebook Messenger Kids, starts to diminish.

Figure 71: Children’s online accounts

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C3. To your knowledge, which of the following do they currently have? - Ownership of devices and social media accounts. Base: Australian parents of children 2-5 years (n=223), 6-9 years (n=173), 10-13 years (n=173), 14-17 years (n=220)

Figure 71: Long Text Description

Attitudes to children’s privacy

The majority of parents (82%) believe children must be empowered to use the internet and online services, but their data privacy must also be protected in this environment – a view held more strongly by parents of boys (85%) than girls (79%). Over 4 in 5 parents (84%) believe children should have the right to grow up without being profiled and targeted.

Half (49%) of parents agree they often have to provide unnecessary personal information about their child/children to use services (19% disagree). This may be a causal factor in why the majority (87%) of parents consider that technology used in schools and for education purposes should only be collecting the minimum amount of personal information necessary for the service.

Figure 72: Parents’ beliefs on children’s data privacy

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C13. Thinking about children’s data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 72: Long Text Description

Measures implemented by parents to protect their child’s privacy

Parents of children up to 5 years of age are the least likely to take any measures to protect their child’s personal information. When they do, they tend to use parental control software (33%) or restricted access to specific apps, programs or websites (32%).

Parents implement more protective measures after their child turns 6. This includes an increased use of passwords (40% 6-8 years cf. 32% 2-5 years), banning the use of certain apps, programs or websites (50% 6-8 years cf. 21% 2-5 years), talking to them about the risks of the internet (51% 6-8 years cf. 18% 2-5 years) and checking privacy settings are set appropriately (41% 6-8 years cf. 22% for 2-5 years).

The most measures are taken by parents of children aged 9-11. This is the age when parents most commonly talk to their children about the risks of the internet (78%), check that privacy settings are set appropriately (56%) and ban the use of certain apps, programs or websites (51%).

Figure 73: Measures taken to protect child’s privacy

% parents taking each measure by age of child

2-5
years

6-8
years

9-11 years

12-14 years

15-17 years

Device restriction settings

Use a password to restrict unsupervised access to a device

28%

40%

34%

33%

23%

Use a parental control software

33%

37%

23%

28%

19%

Restricted access to specific apps, programs or websites

32%

40%

36%

36%

27%

Talk and Interactions

Banned the use of certain apps, programs or websites

21%

50%

51%

46%

24%

Talked to them about the risks of the Internet

18%

51%

78%

66%

65%

Restrict internet access to devices in public parts of the household

17%

29%

30%

28%

16%

Details privacy verifications

Checked the privacy settings are set appropriately

22%

41%

56%

41%

29%

Read the terms and conditions of any apps or programs they use or have downloaded

18%

31%

30%

25%

23%

None of the above

27%

10%

9%

9%

21%

C4. Thinking just about this child and their use of digital devices. What measures are you currently taking, if any, to protect [his/her] privacy? Base: Australian parents of children 2-5 years (n=223), 6-8 years (n=134), 9-11 years (n=114), 12-14 years (n=138), 15-17 years (n=180)

Measures to increase children’s data privacy online

The majority of parents strongly support more restrictions on companies and devices to protect the data privacy of children online – all measures listed are supported by at least 3 in 4 parents and strongly supported by more than half. Furthermore, there are very low levels of opposition to all the tested measures.

Parents are most likely to support the compulsory provision of important data privacy information to children in clear language that is not misleading (85% support, 60% strongly support). Support for this measure is strong across the board and highest for children aged 14-17 (90%), who are more likely to be managing their own privacy.

There is slightly less support (76%) for geo-location tracking to be switched off by default.

Figure 74: Measures to increase the data privacy of children online

image096

C12. How much do you support or oppose each of the following measures to increase the data privacy of children online? Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 74: Long Text Description

image097

Perceptions of control over children’s privacy

While parents are concerned about their children’s data privacy, the majority (62%) feel that they are in control of their child/children’s data privacy and only 12% don’t think they have control. These numbers are similar across ages and gender of children.

Figure 75: Proportion of parents who feel they are in control of their child’s data privacyback

image098

C13. Thinking about children’s data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 75: Long Text Description

Overall, a third of parents have avoided using a service or tool to protect their child’s personal information. One in 5 (21%) have tried to avoid using a service or tool to protect their child’s personal information but decided to use it anyway. This is much higher (37%) among parents of children who have a connected toy or device (such as a Fitbit or a robot toy).

Figure 76: Parents who avoided using a service to protect their child’s personal information

image099

C7. Have you ever avoided, or tried to avoid using a service or tool to protect your [child’s] personal information? Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 76: Long Text Description

Half of parents (47%) believe that they are doing everything they can to protect the personal information of their child and only 13% do not actively do anything about this, a pattern which holds until children reach their mid-teenage years (14-17 years).

Figure 77: Parents protecting child’s personal information online

image100

C8. Thinking about protecting your child’s personal information online, which of the following best applies to you? Base: Australian parents of children 2-5 years (n=223), 6-9 years (n=173), 10-13 years (n=173), 14-17 years (n=220)

Figure 77: Long Text Description

Reasons for not doing more to protect their child’s privacy

Of those who acknowledge they are not doing everything they can, the top reasons for not doing so across all age groups and demographics are lack of knowledge, lack of time and the difficulty of the process. Two in 5 (38%) parents feel it is not clear to them how they can protect the personal information of their child while using a service. This is likely intertwined with being time poor (18%) and finding the task of comparing policies too difficult (17%).

Figure 78: Reasons for not doing more to protect personal information of their child

image101

C9. What are the main reasons for not doing more to protect the personal information of your child? Base: Parents who are not doing everything they can to protect the privacy of their children (n=420)

Figure 78: Long Text Description

The ideal age for children to take responsibility for their own privacy

The average age parents believe children should be able to consent to handing over their personal information in exchange for an online service is 13 years and 62% consider it should be after the age of 13.

Parents believe children should start learning about data privacy earlier, at an average age of 8. Two-thirds (66%) of parents believe children should start learning about this before the age of 10. No parents in our survey (0%) considered that there was no need for them learn about privacy.

Figure 79: Appropriate age for children to start learning about data privacy

image102

 

C10. At what age do you think is most appropriate for children to start learning about data privacy and the protection of their personal information?
C11. What age do you think is most appropriate for your child to consent to handing over their personal information in exchange for an online service? Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 79: Long Text Description


The average age a child acquires a mobile phone is 13.1 years. This is also very close to the average age (13.3 years) parents consider it appropriate for a child to consent to handing over their personal information in exchange for an online service. Nineteen percent of children have their own mobile phone and 13% have their own social media account before the age of 13.

Figure 80: Children’s ownership of devices and social media accounts

image103

C3. To your knowledge, which of the following do they currently have? - Ownership of devices and social media accounts Base: Australian parents (n=789)

Figure 80: Long Text Description

Part 7: Attitudes to privacy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak

The majority of the fieldwork for the main survey was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic having a significant impact on Australians. As reporting for the survey got underway, physical distancing rules were enacted and enforced in all Australian states and territories. In-person school attendance significantly shifted to remote learning and workplaces shifted to work from home where possible. Australians used different ways to work, study and stay in touch with their loved ones and adapted their routine with activities that can be done at home rather than outside. Increased use of telehealth was also facilitated.

The change in behaviours had a series of privacy implications, with many Australians being required by circumstances to use a large range of new digital tools. Furthermore, governments around the world and in Australia sought data and technology approaches to prevent and manage the spread of COVID-19, encompassing both the treatment and management of patients and measures to prevent the disease spreading.

To understand how these unprecedented circumstances were impacting Australian views on privacy, an additional survey to the main ACAPS was conducted between 7 April and 9 April 2020.

Figure 81: ACAPS fieldwork timelines in relation to timelines of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia

image104

https: //www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-
current-situation-and-case-numbers

The additional survey found the majority of Australians (60%) agree that some concessions must be made to privacy protections to combat COVID-19 for the greater good. The same proportion (60%) agree that these concessions can be made so long as they are not permanent. Three-quarters (75%) of Australians believe COVID-19 does not excuse business or government from meeting their usual obligations under privacy laws.

COVID-19 has required those Australians who can, to work or study from home, necessitating greater reliance on new and existing technology. While Australians tend to trust the new digital services they have been using, the speed of change has left many Australians unaware of the privacy implications of the services they use. Australians are, however, more likely to read the privacy policies of the apps they have downloaded as a result of COVID-19 and they are increasingly vigilant when it comes to their location data.

Concerns over privacy in a COVID-19 environment

Half (50%) of Australians agree that their privacy is more at risk in a COVID-19 environment than usual. This is driven by over half (55%) of males and 3 in 5 young Australians (62%) and students (64%), who are all significantly more likely than their counterparts to feel this way. Comparatively 45% of females, 48%, of 35-49-year-olds and 42% of those over 50 feel the same way.

Figure 82: Privacy concerns since COVID-19

image105

A10. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 82: Long Text Description

image106

Over half (54%) of Australians are more concerned about the protection of their personal information as a result of the management of COVID-19 in Australia, including a quarter (26%) who are much more concerned. Australians who reside in capital cities are more likely than their counterparts to be more concerned (58%; rest of Australia 48%), as are younger Australians with two-thirds (68%) being concerned compared to 55% of those aged 35-49 and 44% of older Australians (50+ years). 

Figure 83: Changes in concerns about the protection of their personal information overall

image107

A1. How much more or less concerned are you about the protection of your personal information overall as a result of the management of COVID-19 in Australia? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 83: Long Text Description

Almost half (48%) of Australians are more concerned about the protection of their location information as a result of COVID-19, followed by their medical information stored by private organisations (44%) and their medical information stored by government agencies (40%).

Concerns around the protection of medical information have not changed for nearly half of Australians (49% where stored by private organisations, 52% where stored by government agencies). A small minority is less concerned about the protection of all these types of information during the pandemic than they were before the start of the pandemic.

Figure 84: Concerns about protection of personal information since the COVID-19 outbreak

image108

A8. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, do you feel more or less concerned about each of the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 84: Long Text Description

Perception of privacy risks

The biggest privacy risks perceived by Australians have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19. Location tracking is now the third biggest privacy risk perceived by Australians. It was previously ranked fifth.

Surveillance by the Australian Government is ranked higher as a concern since the outbreak of COVID-19. It was perceived as the 11th biggest risk prior to COVID-19 and is now the sixth biggest risk. Workplace privacy has risen by two places (from 13th pre-COVID to 11th in the context of COVID-19).

The top two concerns remain identity theft/fraud (ranked first) and data security/breaches (ranked second).

Figure 85: Biggest privacy risks people face in the context of COVID-19 crisis

image109

A2. What do you think are the biggest privacy risks that face people in the context of the COVID-19 crisis? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004) / A8. What do you think are the biggest privacy risks that face people today? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,510)

Figure 85: Long Text Description

Change in behaviour in Australian households

At least 53% of Australians had at least one person in their household having to work or study at home as a result of the pandemic.

Figure 86: Proportion of Australians working or studying from home as a result of COVID-19

image110

A3. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which of the following apply to you? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 86: Long Text Description

This includes 2 in 5 Australians (40%) who have been doing some work from home or have had others in their household working from home. Australians who reside in capital cities (47%) and young Australians (56%) are the most likely to have worked from home, compared to those who live in regional areas (29%) and older Australians aged 35-49 years (47%) and 50+ years (25%).

Fifteen percent of Australians continued to work from their normal workplace, which increased to a quarter among full-time workers (24%) and those aged 35-49 (22%), while only 11% of younger Australians aged 18-34 years and 15% of those aged 50 or over continued to work from their normal workplace.

Figure 87: Changes in work/study made since the COVID-19 pandemic

image111

A3. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which of the following apply to you? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 87: Long Text Description

Attitudes to protection of personal information while at home

Australians are more likely to feel comfortable than uncomfortable with the protection of their personal information while using digital services at home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it is for work, studying or personal use (45% to 49% comfortable; cf. 20% to 22% uncomfortable). However, close to 1 in 5 feel uncomfortable.

Those studying at home are more likely to feel comfortable with the protection of their personal information (49% comfortable, 20% uncomfortable) than those working from home (45% comfortable, 21% uncomfortable). Half (46%) of workers are comfortable with the protection of their households’ personal information with higher use of video and audio communication services (22% uncomfortable).

Figure 88: Comfort with protection of personal information while working/studying at home

image112

A4. How comfortable do you feel about the following aspects of your privacy, with some members of your household working and / or studying from home? Base: Australians who are working or studying from home (household or themselves) (n=528) Australians who are studying from home (household or themselves) (n=272)

Figure 88: Long Text Description

Over a third of Australians (35%) are comfortable with employees of other organisations handling their personal information while these employees work from home, however 25% are uncomfortable with this.

Males (39%) are more comfortable with the protection of their personal information when it is being handled by employees of other organisations working from home than females (30%), as are full-time workers (47%) compared to others (28%). Younger Australians (50%) are twice as likely as the oldest Australians (21%) to feel comfortable and are more likely than those aged 35-49 years (39%).

Almost half (45%) of Australians are comfortable with the sharing of health information using telehealth conferences. This is also driven by full-time workers (53%; cf. others 40%) and younger Australians, with 54% feeling comfortable compared to 2 in 5 of their older counterparts, those aged 35-49 (43%) and those older than 50 (39%).

Figure 89: Comfort with protection of personal information in telehealth conferences or by employees working from home

image113

A5. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, there have been many changes in the way people work, across a large number of companies and government departments. In this context, how comfortable or uncomfortable are you with? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 89: Long Text Description

Privacy concessions during the COVID-19 outbreak

The majority of Australians (60%) agree that some privacy concessions must be made to combat COVID-19 for the greater good. The same proportion agree that some concessions must be made so long as the changes are not permanent (60%; cf. 12% disagree).

There is a strong belief among Australians that COVID-19 does not excuse business or government from meeting their usual obligations under privacy laws, with close to three-quarters (72%) agreeing with this sentiment.

Older Australians (50+ years) are more likely to feel some concessions must be made on privacy to combat COVID-19 as long as they are not permanent (64%), this is followed by 18-34 year-olds (60%) and then by those aged 35-49 (54%). There is also a correlation between age and the agreement that COVID-19 does not excuse the government from meeting their usual obligations under privacy laws, with three-quarters (76%) of those 50+ years old agreeing, followed by 71% of those aged 35-49 and 67% of 18-34 year-olds.

Figure 90: Beliefs around the concessions that must be made during the COVID-19 outbreak

image114

A10. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 90: Long Text Description

Over half (53%) of Australians are comfortable with their personal information, including health information being shared to combat coronavirus, while 19% are uncomfortable. Levels of comfort are much lower with the government using the same data practice without users’ consent (29% comfortable and 44% uncomfortable).

Males are much more likely to be comfortable with government using phone data without consent to help stop the spread of the coronavirus (36%; cf. females 23%). There are few differences across other demographics.

Figure 91: Comfort with organisations using phone data to stop COVID-19 with or without consent

image115

A6. Overall, considering all the changes as a result of COVID-19, how comfortable or uncomfortable are you with each of the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 91: Long Text Description

Australians are more divided on their levels of comfort with government agencies sharing their personal information with other Australian government agencies, with a similar proportion comfortable (35%) as uncomfortable (32%).

Levels of comfort with information sharing are slightly higher during the COVID-19 pandemic than immediately prior to it, and levels of discomfort are lower. There is a higher proportion of Australians who are neutral about each action, which may reflect a population still coming to terms with the privacy implications of the evolving government response to COVID-19.

When Australian businesses are introduced, Australians are much more likely to become uncomfortable. Fewer than 1 in 5 Australians (19%) are comfortable with government agencies sharing personal information with businesses in Australia with the majority (53%) uncomfortable. The same proportion (19%) are comfortable with businesses sharing personal information with other Australian organisations, with 54% uncomfortable.

Figure 92: Comfort with different organisations sharing personal information

image116

A6. Overall, considering all the changes as a result of COVID-19, how comfortable or uncomfortable are you
with each of the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 92: Long Text Description

 

Figure 93: Comfort levels with organisations sharing personal information before and during COVID-19

image117

A6_During COVID-19. Overall, considering all the changes as a result of COVID-19, how comfortable or uncomfortable are you with each of the following? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,004) / B14. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with… Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

Figure 93: Long Text Description

Implications for trust in organisations

Health service providers are the most trusted organisations with regard to how they protect Australians’ personal information during the COVID-19 outbreak (72% trustworthy), followed by their employer (64% trustworthy) and Federal Government Departments (54% trustworthy).

Roughly the same proportion of Australians trust as distrust insurance companies (32% trustworthy, 32% untrustworthy) and companies in general (29% trustworthy, 25% untrustworthy). However, Australians are less likely to trust search engines (24% trustworthy, 38% untrustworthy), apps (21% trustworthy, 42% untrustworthy) and the social media industry (17% trustworthy, 58% untrustworthy).

Younger Australians are more likely to trust digital services (27% of 18-34 and 22% of 35 to 49-year-olds cf. 7% of those 50 years or older do so). They are also more likely to trust search engines (33% of 18 to 34 and 28% of 35 to 49 year-olds cf. 16% of those 50 and over) and apps (32% of 18 to 34 and 24% of 35 to 49 year-olds cf. 10% of those 50 and over). However, employers are more likely to be trusted by Australians aged 50 and over (72%) than younger Australians (66% of those 35 to 49 and 57% of those 18 to 34).

Figure 94: Trust in organisations with regard to how they protect personal information in the context of the COVID-19 crisis

image118

A9. Thinking now about trustworthiness. How trustworthy or untrustworthy would you say the following organisations are with regards to how they protect or use your personal information in the context of the COVID-19 crisis? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,004)

Figure 94: Long Text Description

Except for insurance companies (where the overall pattern is unclear), the proportion who trust each organisation type has increased slightly, whereas the proportion who distrust each organisation type has dropped more substantially. Notably, trust in Federal Government Departments has increased 3% and distrust has dropped 8%. Trust in search engines has increased 9%, with distrust down by 17%. Trust in the social media industry is up 6%, with distrust down by 14%.

image119

Figure 95: Trust in organisations with regard to how they protect personal information before and during the COVID-19 crisis

image120

A9. Thinking now about trustworthiness. How trustworthy or untrustworthy would you say the following organisations are with regards to how they protect or use your personal information in the context of the COVID-19 crisis? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 95: Long Text Description

Attitudes to digital services during the COVID-19 outbreak

Close to half (47%) of Australians have downloaded an app or signed up to a new digital service as a result of COVID-19. Young Australians (18-34 years, 68%), students (69%), full time workers (57%) and those whose work status has changed as a result of COVID-19 (60%) are substantially more likely to have downloaded an app or signed up to a digital service as a result of COVID-19.

Figure 96: Proportion of Australians who have downloaded an app or signed up to a digital service as a result of COVID-19

image121

A11. Have you downloaded any app or signed up to a new digital service as a result of COVID-19 for any of the following purposes? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,004)

Figure 96: Long Text Description

The main reason for downloading a new app was to keep updated with COVID-19-related news (27%), followed by staying in touch with people (19%), entertainment (16%) or to work remotely (16%). Those who downloaded an app listed on average 1.9 reasons for doing so, suggesting each person may have downloaded multiple apps as a result of COVID-19.

Figure 97: Reasons why apps were downloaded as a result of COVID-19

image122

A11. Have you downloaded any app or signed up to a new digital service as a result of COVID-19 for any of the following purposes? Base: Australians 18+ (n=1004)

Figure 97: Long Text Description

Of those who downloaded an app or signed up to a digital service since the start of the pandemic, 40% have read most or all of the privacy policies attached to these. This is higher than the proportion of Australians who claimed to normally read privacy policies attached to an internet site before the outbreak (34%).

Forty-five percent of Australians read half or less of the policy and 18% read very little. Over 1 in 10 Australians (15%) did not read the policy at all, with this response higher among females (20%).

Figure 98: Extent to which Australians read the privacy policies associated with new apps and services

image123

A12. How much of the privacy policies associated with these apps or services did you read? Base: Australians who downloaded any app or signed a new digital service as a result of COVID-19 (n=467)

Figure 98: Long Text Description

Long text descriptions

Figure 1: What privacy means to Australians (unprompted, categorised by researchers)14

B1. In your own words, please tell me what ‘privacy’ means to you? Please be specific in terms of what this covers — unprompted.

 

 

Total Respondents

Info is kept confidential, private

40%

Having control / the right to choose

27%

To live free from interference / restrictions

16%

Info is not sold or passed on to a third party without permission

10%

Protection of information

8%

Info is not misused / used against me

6%

Security, scams, hacks, leaks

6%

To feel safe/comfortable

5%

Not being observed/watched

4%

An entitlement or human right

3%

Respect

2%

Not public / made public

2%

Info won't be gathered without permission or reason

1%

Other

8%

Back to Figure 1

Figure 3: Percentage of Australians concerned about personal information protection17

B2_1. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

 

Total Respondents

Strongly agree

30%

Agree

39%

Neither agree nor disagree

22%

Disagree

7%

Strongly disagree

2%

Back to Figure 3

Figure 4: Importance of privacy when choosing a digital service18

A2. Thinking of choosing a digital service, how important is the privacy of your information and data when choosing a digital service (e.g. any app or program on a phone or laptop)?

 

Total Respondents

18-24 yrs

25-34 yrs

35-49 yrs

50-64 yrs

65 plus yrs

Extremely important

54%

29%

42%

51%

65%

70%

Very important

30%

52%

36%

28%

24%

20%

Quite important

13%

14%

19%

16%

9%

7%

Not important

2%

3%

2%

2%

1%

2%

Don’t know

2%

2%

2%

2%

1%

1%

Back to Figure 4

Figure 5: Importance of aspects when choosing an app or program to download19

A1. Please rank each of the following in order of importance when choosing which app or program to download.

 

1st

2nd

3rd

My data privacy

37%

18%

15%

Reliability / No bugs

11%

24%

16%

Quality

11%

17%

21%

Makes my life easier

16%

12%

14%

Price

15%

14%

13%

Reputation

8%

12%

13%

New and innovative

3%

4%

7%

Back to Figure 5

Figure 6: Reasons privacy is important in digital services20

A3. Why do you say that? - Unprompted (After levels of importance of privacy at the time of choosing a digital service).

 

Consider privacy of information Extremely to Very important

For privacy & protection of personal information

22%

Ownership & control of access of my personal information

22%

Fear of scams, hacks, fraud

21%

Personal harm / Security

11%

Avoid misuse / use or access without consent

10%

Avoid sharing/selling to 3rd parties

8%

General importance / General concern

8%

Avoid unwanted advertising/marketing

4%

Other

11%

Back to Figure 6

Figure 7: Percentage of Australians who experienced mishandling of personal information21

A9. Have you experienced any of the following types of problems with how your personal information was handled in the past 12 months?

 

 

Total Respondents

Your personal information was used for unsolicited direct marketing without your consent

30%

You were not able to unsubscribe from marketing communications

29%

You had to provide personal or sensitive information to a business when you preferred not to, and this was not required to deliver the service

16%

Your personal information was collected by a business without your consent, and this was not required to deliver the service

15%

You had to identify yourself to a business when you preferred to remain anonymous, and your identity was not required to deliver the service

15%

You were not able to access, update or delete personal information held about you

14%

Your personal information was stolen by hackers or other criminals

11%

Your personal information was disclosed intentionally by a business without your consent, and this was not required to deliver the service

10%

You couldn’t find or access an organisation’s privacy policy

7%

Your personal information was disclosed accidentally without your consent

7%

None of the above

41%

Back to Figure 7

Figure 8: Beliefs around the proportion of businesses that use targeted advertising techniques24

A18. How many Australian businesses do you think do each of the following?

 

Most businesses do this

About half of businesses do this

Few businesses do this

No businesses do this

Don’t know

Target ads to people who have visited their website

53%

25%

11%

2%

9%

Target ads based on spending habits

36%

32%

16%

2%

14%

Target ads to people based on location data

32%

31%

20%

2%

15%

Target ads to people based on the behaviour of their social media friends

28%

26%

21%

3%

22%

Target ads to people based on the content of their emails or other written, electronic communications

24%

25%

23%

4%

24%

Target ads to people based on audio conversations recorded by phones, computers or home assistants

19%

20%

26%

5%

29%

Back to Figure 8

Figure 9: Beliefs around the proportion of smartphone apps that collect information about people who use them — by year25

A19_2020 / Q24_2017. Proportion of smart phone apps that collect information about people who use them.

 

2017

2020

All

26%

21%

Most

37%

41%

Some

17%

20%

Few

3%

3%

None

1%

1%

Don't know

7%

10%

Don't use a smartphone

8%

5%

Back to Figure 9

Figure 10: Biggest privacy risks Australians are facing today26

A8. What do you think are the biggest privacy risks that face people today?

 

Total Respondents

Identity theft / fraud

76%

Data security / Data breaches

61%

Social media sites

58%

Smart phones / apps

49%

Surveillance of Australians by foreign entities

35%

Surveillance by Australian entities

26%

Workplace privacy

17%

Location tracking

48%

Sending information overseas

41%

Profiling

31%

Artificial Intelligence

24%

ID scanning (e.g. to enter a venue)

28%

Credit reporting

27%

Don’t know

4%

Back to Figure 10

Figure 11: Comfort with information sharing by organisation type28

B14. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with… Base: Australians 18+ (n=1,506)

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Don't know

Businesses sharing your personal information with other Australian organisations

5%

8%

16%

31%

39%

1%

Government agencies sharing your personal information with businesses in Australia

6%

9%

14%

29%

41%

1%

Government agencies sharing your personal information with other Australian government agencies

8%

28%

23%

22%

18%

2%

Back to Figure 11

Figure 12: Comfort with government agencies sharing information with other Australian government agencies over time28

B14_2020 / Q14C_2017. And how comfortable or uncomfortable are you with government agencies sharing information with other government agencies?

 

2017

2020

Very comfortable

8%

8%

Somewhat comfortable

22%

28%

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

23%

23%

Somewhat uncomfortable

21%

22%

Very uncomfortable

24%

18%

Don't know

2%

2%

Back to Figure 12

Figure 13: Comfort with digital platforms’ data practices29

A16. How comfortable are you with each of the following data practices?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Digital platforms/online businesses targeting advertising at you based on what you have said and done online

3%

13%

23%

27%

31%

Digital platforms/online businesses keeping databases of information on what you have said and done online

3%

11%

21%

26%

36%

Digital platforms/online businesses tracking your location through your mobile or web browser

3%

11%

21%

25%

37%

             

Back to Figure 13


Figure 14: High discomfort (% very uncomfortable) with digital platform/online business data practices by age30

A16. How comfortable are you with each of the following data practices?

 

18-24 yrs

25-34 yrs

35-49 yrs

50-64 yrs

65+ yrs

Digital platforms/online businesses targeting advertising at you based on what you have said and done online

20%

24%

25%

36%

45%

Digital platforms/online businesses keeping databases of information on what you have said and done online

20%

32%

32%

42%

46%

Digital platforms/online businesses tracking your location through your mobile or web browser

22%

31%

33%

46%

47%

Back to Figure 14

Figure 15: How Australians feel about data privacy31

B6_1 & B6_3. Thinking about data privacy, do you agree or disagree with the following?

 

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

It is fair enough that I share some personal information if I want to use a service

6%

51%

25%

13%

4%

If I have to receive ads, I’d prefer them to be targeted and relevant to me

13%

35%

29%

13%

10%

             

Back to Figure 15

Figure 16: Levels of comfort of Australians with business use of data33

B15. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with …?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

A business combining data about their customers with other data to better profile their customers

5%

15%

24%

28%

25%

A business creating profiles about consumers based on data collected about them

4%

14%

25%

29%

26%

A business collecting information from consumers’ mobile devices to decide on location and content of billboards / outdoor advertising

4%

12%

25%

26%

30%

             

Back to Figure 16

Figure 17: Levels of comfort of Australians with government bodies/law enforcement using data34

B15. How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with …?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Law enforcement using facial recognition and video surveillance to identify suspects

26%

32%

17%

12%

11%

A government body using surveillance for public safety

22%

33%

20%

12%

11%

A government body using biometrics and smart technologies for the delivery of services (e. g. to verify people’s identity by phone)

8%

27%

25%

20%

17%

Back to Figure 17

Figure 18: Comfort with personal information provided to government agencies and departments being used for research, service development or policy development purposes35

B16_2020 / Q11_2020. How comfortable or uncomfortable would you be with the personal information that you’ve provided to government agencies and departments being used for research, service development or policy development purposes?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Don’t know

2020

9%

31%

30%

17%

10%

3%

2017

7%

31%

30%

20%

10%

3%

Back to Figure 18

Figure 19: Australians’ beliefs that each data practice is a misuse37

B9/B10/B11/B12. B9. Thinking now about the way that your personal information is handled by private or public sector organisations, which of the following instances would you regard to be a misuse of your personal information?

 

Yes

No

Don't know

An organisation uses my personal information in ways that cause me harm, loss or distress

84%

8%

8%

I supply information to an organisation for a specific purpose and they use it for another purpose

84%

9%

7%

My personal device listens to my conversations and shares that with other organisations without my knowledge

83%

9%

7%

An organisation collects information about me in ways that I would not expect

83%

9%

8%

An organisation reveals my information to other customers

83%

9%

7%

An organisation reveals my information to other organisations

82%

9%

9%

An organisation asks me for personal information that doesn't seem relevant to the purpose of the transaction

81%

9%

9%

An organisation monitors my activities on the Internet, recording information on the sites I visit without my knowledge

81%

11%

7%

Back to Figure 19

Figure 20: Proportion of Australians who consider each data practice is a misuse 2013-202038

B9/B10/B11_2020. Thinking now about the way that your personal information is handled by private or public sector organisations, which of the following instances would you regard to be a misuse of your personal information?

 

2013

2017

2020

reveals my information to other organisations

83%

82%

82%

reveals my information to other customers

79%

80%

83%

monitors my activities on the Internet, recording information on the sites I visit without my knowledge

80%

79%

81%

I supply information to an organisation for a specific purpose and they use it for another purpose

80%

79%

84%

asks me for personal information that doesn't seem relevant to the purpose of the transaction

76%

74%

81%

sends my data to an overseas processing centre

68%

70%

74%

Back to Figure 20

Figure 21: Concerns of Australians regarding their personal information being sent overseas39

B13. How concerned are you about organisations sending their customers’ personal information from Australia to overseas?

 

Total respondents

Very concerned

56%

Somewhat concerned

36%

Not concerned

5%

Don’t know

2%

Back to Figure 21

Figure 22: Concerns of Australians regarding their personal information being sent overseas40

B13. How concerned are you about organisations sending their customers’ personal information from Australia to overseas?

 

2007

2013

2017

2020

Very concerned

59%

58%

58%

56%

Somewhat concerned

32%

33%

34%

36%

Not concerned

6%

6%

4%

5%

Don’t know

3%

3%

4%

2%

Back to Figure 22

Figure 23: Australians’ beliefs about protecting their data42

A7_3. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

It is too much effort to protect the privacy of my data

7%

23%

27%

30%

12%

I care enough about protecting my personal information to actually do something about it

27%

48%

21%

3%

1%

               

Back to Figure 23

Figure 24: Australians’ knowledge of data protection and privacy rights

A4. Before today, how would you rate your knowledge of data protection and privacy rights?

 

Excellent

Very good

Good

Fair

Poor

All Australians

5%

19%

37%

29%

10%

18-24 years

3%

28%

42%

20%

7%

25-34 years

7%

21%

38%

24%

10%

35-49 years

7%

19%

38%

28%

8%

50-64 years

4%

17%

32%

34%

13%

65+ years

1%

14%

38%

35%

13%

             

Back to Figure 24

Figure 25: Australians’ beliefs on protecting their personal information

A7. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

I care about my data privacy but I don’t know what to do about it

16%

42%

25%

13%

3%

I have a clear understanding of how I can protect my personal information

10%

38%

31%

17%

3%

I have a clear understanding of why I should protect my personal information

41%

44%

12%

2%

1%

               

Back to Figure 25

Figure 26: Actions taken by Australians out of concern for their data privacy

A11. Have you ever done any of the following out of concern for your data privacy?

 

Total Respondents

Deleted an app

57%

Denied an app permission to access information

57%

Read a privacy policy in full

29%

Requested that your personal information is deleted

23%

Changed provider

13%

Gave up on using a service (please specify the type of service)

4%

Other (please specify)

1%

None of the above

20%

     

Back to Figure 26

Figure 27: Australians’ participation in data protection activities

A12. How often do you participate in the following activities …?

 

Always

Often

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

Don’t know

Read privacy policies before providing personal information

11%

22%

34%

20%

10%

2%

Use an ad blocker, VPN, privacy-focused web search engine or incognito mode when browsing

14%

18%

24%

14%

22%

7%

Choose not to deal with an organisation because of concerns regarding privacy

10%

21%

39%

18%

7%

5%

Turn off smart devices

11%

19%

31%

20%

14%

5%

Choose an app or software because it had better privacy practices

8%

21%

32%

15%

14%

10%

Ask public or private sector organisations why they need my information

9%

18%

31%

19%

21%

3%

Provide false personal details

3%

10%

24%

18%

42%

3%

               

Back to Figure 27

Figure 28: Measures of protection of privacy always or often taken in 2017 and in 2020

A12_2020. In order to protect your personal information how often do you ...? / Q21_2017. The following questions are about things you might have done. To protect your personal information how often, if ever, do you?

 

2020 (often or always)

2017 (often or always)

Check that a website is secure before providing personal information (eg check for the padlock symbol in the browser)

56%

62%

Adjust privacy settings on a social networking website

46%

55%

Clear your browsing and search history

51%

55%

Shred documents

41%

52%

Choose not to use an app (application) on a mobile device because of concerns over handling your personal information

38%

50%

Ask public or private sector organisations why they need your information

27%

43%

Read privacy policies and notifications before providing personal information

33%

38%

Choose not to deal with an organisation because of concerns regarding privacy

31%

34%

Refuse to provide personal information

34%

28%

Provide false personal details

13%

10%

         

Back to Figure 28

Figure 29: Australians’ beliefs on data privacy

B2. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? / B6. Thinking about data privacy, do you agree or disagree with the following?

 

Strongly
agree

Agree

Neither agree
nor disagree

Disagree

 

Strongly
disagree

I feel I am in control of my data privacy

6%

28%

32%

26%

8%

None of our personal information is private anymore, we need to get used to it

9%

28%

23%

24%

15%

If I want to use a service, I have to accept what the service does with my data

13%

34%

24%

21%

9%

I want more control and choice over the collection and use of my personal info

44%

43%

11%

2%

0%

             

Back to Figure 29

Figure 30: Australians’ beliefs about data privacy and businesses

B6. Thinking about data privacy, do you agree or disagree with the following?

 

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

I end up having to pay more because of excessive privacy red tape for businesses

7%

21%

50%

19%

4%

I don’t understand what businesses do with the information they collect about me

19%

39%

23%

16%

3%

             

Back to Figure 30

Figure 31: The extent to which Australians can access and use data

A20. Extent you can access and use your data to receive appropriate goods and services.

 

 

Total Respondents

I can access all the data I need

33%

I can access some of my data, which is enough

20%

I can access some of my data, but I would like to see more

9%

I can’t access most of the data I would like to see

17%

Don’t know / Unsure

22%

     

Back to Figure 31

Figure 32: Percentage of Australians who are aware they can request access to personal information

A23. Are you aware that you can request to access your personal information from businesses and government agencies?

 

Awareness of the privacy commissioner

Yes

36%

No

48%

Don’t know

16%

     

Back to Figure 32

Figure 33: Australians’ beliefs on how trustworthy organisations are with personal information

B8. Thinking now about trustworthiness. How trustworthy or untrustworthy would you say the following organisations are with regards to how they protect or use your personal information?

 

Very trustworthy

Somewhat trustworthy

Neither trustworthy nor untrustworthy

Somewhat untrustworthy

Very untrustworthy

Don’t know / not sure

Health service providers including doctors,
hospitals and pharmacists

23%

47%

17%

7%

4%

1%

Federal Government Departments

11%

40%

21%

15%

10%

3%

Financial Institutions

10%

40%

20%

18%

10%

2%

Telecommunication providers
(e.g. Telstra, Optus)

5%

30%

24%

23%

15%

3%

Insurance companies

6%

29%

22%

24%

16%

3%

Companies in general

3%

22%

35%

27%

11%

3%

Retailers including online retailers

3%

22%

31%

28%

14%

3%

Loyalty and reward schemes

3%

20%

30%

25%

18%

4%

Manufacturers of smart phones,
smart toys and other hardware

3%

17%

28%

26%

20%

5%

Search engines

3%

13%

26%

27%

28%

4%

Apps

3%

12%

27%

29%

25%

4%

Social media industry

2%

10%

17%

26%

44%

2%

Back to Figure 33

Figure 34: Proportion of Australians considering each organisation trustworthy from 2007 to 2020

B8_2020 / Q8_2017. Thinking now about trustworthiness. How trustworthy or untrustworthy would you say the following organisations are with regards to how they protect or use your personal information?

 

2020

2017

2013

2007

Health service providers

70%

73%

73%

74%

Federal Government departments

51%

56%

60%

64%

Financial institutions

50%

56%

65%

49%

Insurance companies

35%

37%

44%

37%

Companies in general

24%

29%

40%

42%

Retailers including online retailers

24%

25%

29%

32%

Social media industry

11%

13%

12%

n/a

Back to Figure 34

Figure 35: Percentage of Australians who are aware of the Privacy Act

A5. Are you aware of the main law that promotes and protect the privacy of individuals in Australia?

 

Readership and understanding

Have never heard of it

34%

Have heard of it, but I don’t know the name

58%

Aware and named correctly

7%

Aware and named incorrectly

1%

     

Back to Figure 35

Figure 36: Awareness of sectors covered by the Privacy Act

A21. The actions of the Privacy Commissioner are determined by the Federal Privacy Act. Which of the following do you think are covered by the Privacy Act?

 

Correct response

Incorrect response

Don't know

Multinational organisations operating in Australia

53%

15%

32%

Small Australian businesses

54%

15%

31%

Political parties and political representatives

52%

17%

31%

Media organisations

55%

15%

30%

Businesses collecting work related information about employees

59%

13%

28%

Medium to large Australian businesses

61%

12%

27%

Federal government agencies

63%

12%

25%

Back to Figure 36

Figure 37: Awareness of sectors covered by the Privacy Act in 2017 and 2020 – filtered to those aware of the Privacy Commissioner

A21_2020. The actions of the Privacy Commissioner are determined by the Federal Privacy Act. Which of the following do you think are covered by the Privacy Act? / Q6B. Which of the following do you think are under the jurisdiction of the Privacy Act? Base: Those aware of the Privacy Commissioner

 

 

Correct
response

Incorrect
response

Don't
know

Multinational organisations operating in Australia

 

2020

65%

13%

22%

2017

64%

12%

24%

Small Australian businesses

 

2020

64%

15%

21%

2017

67%

12%

21%

Political parties and political representatives

 

2020

62%

17%

21%

2017

64%

15%

21%

Media organisations

 

2020

66%

14%

20%

2017

69%

12%

18%

Businesses collecting work related information about employees

 

2020

71%

12%

17%

2017

75%

11%

14%

Medium to large Australian businesses

 

2020

74%

10%

16%

2017

75%

9%

16%

Federal government agencies

 

2020

77%

10%

13%

2017

78%

9%

12%

Back to Figure 37

Figure 38: Belief that each sector should be covered by the Privacy Act

A22. The following sectors are currently exempt from the Privacy Act. Should they be required to protect your personal information in the same ways that government and larger businesses are required to?

 

Yes

No

Don't know

Small Australian businesses

71%

11%

17%

Political parties and political representatives

74%

10%

16%

Businesses collecting work related information about employees

73%

11%

16%

Media organisations

72%

12%

16%

Back to Figure 38

Figure 39: Awareness of the Privacy Commissioner over time

A6_2020. Are you aware that a Privacy Commissioner exists to uphold privacy laws and to investigate complaints concerning the misuse of personal information? / Q6_2017. Were you aware that an Australian Government Privacy Commissioner exists to uphold privacy laws and to investigate complaints concerning the misuse of personal information

 

2020

2017

 

Yes

48%

44%

No

40%

45%

Don't know

12%

11%

Back to Figure 39

Figure 40: Australians’ point of contact to report misuse of personal information

A10. If you wanted to report misuse of your personal information to someone, who would you be most likely to contac

 

Total Respondents

The Privacy Commissioner (Federal or State)

38%

The organisation that was involved

37%

Police

37%

Ombudsman

21%

Consumer Affairs (in your state)

19%

Seek advice from a friend or relative

15%

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

15%

Department of Fair Trading

11%

Lawyers/solicitors

8%

Federal/Local/State MP

7%

The media e.g. TV/ radio/ newspapers

5%

Local Council

4%

Other Government department

3%

Don’t know

14%

Back to Figure 40

Figure 41: Organisations people would report a misuse of personal information to in 2017 and 2020

A10_2020 prompted. If you wanted to report misuse of your personal information to someone, who would you be most likely to contact?
Q17_2017 unprompted. If you wanted to report misuse of your personal information to someone, who would you be most likely to contact?

 

2020(prompted)

2017(unprompted)

Police

37%

5%

The Privacy Commissioner (Federal or State)

38%

3%

The organisation that was involved

37%

2%

Ombudsman

21%

2%

Consumer Affairs (in your state)

19%

1%

Back to Figure 41

Figure 42: Perception of levels of protection regarding specific privacy rights

7. Thinking about legal and other protections. How protected do you feel in regard to the following privacy rights?

 

Very well protected

Well protected

Neutral

Poorly protected

Very poorly protected

Protection of your location information stored by organisations or devices (e.g. mobile phones)

5%

18%

36%

30%

11%

Privacy of your personal information (e.g. your name, phone number or other identifying information)

4%

20%

36%

27%

13%

Privacy of your electronic communications

4%

23%

35%

27%

10%

Protection of your biometric information (e.g. your fingerprint or facial scans) stored by organisations or devices (e.g. mobile phones)

8%

27%

38%

20%

7%

Back to Figure 42

Figure 43: Australians’ beliefs that the government should do more to protect the privacy of their data

B2_6. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? I would like the government to do more to protect the privacy of my data

 

Total

18-24 yrs

25-34 yrs

35-49 yrs

50-64 yrs

Strongly agree

45%

37%

35%

41%

55%

Agree

39%

38%

45%

43%

35%

Neither agree nor disagree

14%

23%

16%

14%

8%

Disagree

2%

1%

3%

2%

1%

Strongly disagree

1%

2%

2%

1%

0%

Back to Figure 43

Figure 44: Australians’ beliefs that the government should do more to protect the privacy of their data – organisation type breakdown

B2_6. Thinking about data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? - I would like the government to do more to protect the privacy of my data

 

Social media industry is trustworthy

Social media industry is untrustworthy

Search engines are trustworthy

Search engines are untrustworthy

Apps are trustworthy

Apps are untrustworthy

Strongly agree

36%

49%

33%

51%

36%

50%

Agree

39%

38%

45%

37%

42%

38%

Neither agree nor disagree

19%

10%

18%

8%

18%

9%

Disagree

3%

2%

3%

2%

3%

2%

Strongly disagree

3%

1%

1%

1%

2%

1%

Back to Figure 44

Figure 45: Australians’ beliefs that they should or should not have specific privacy rights

A24. Do you believe Australians should or should not have these rights?

 

Should have
this right

Should not
have

 

Don’t know /
not sure

To ask a business to delete my personal information

84%

6%

9%

To seek compensation in the courts for a breach of privacy

78%

7%

15%

To know when my personal information is used in automated decision-making if it could affect me (e.g. when information about my race is used to determine what information I see in my social media feed)

77%

10%

13%

To object to certain data practices (e.g. selling my personal information) while still being able to access and use the service

77%

11%

12%

To ask a Government agency to delete my personal information

64%

14%

22%

Back to Figure 45

Figure 46: Groups of Australians that should have additional protection under the Privacy Act

A25. Which of the following groups of Australians, if any, do you believe require additional protection under the Privacy Act?

 

Total Respondents

Young children 0-12 years

68%

Those with an intellectual disability

67%

The elderly

67%

Teenagers 13-17 years

64%

Young adults 18 years and over

42%

People speaking English as a second language

39%

Migrants new to Australia

38%

None of these

10%

Back to Figure 46

Figure 47: Proportion of Australians who normally read privacy policies on internet sites

B20_2020. Do you normally read the privacy policy attached to any internet site?

 

2007

2013

2017

2020

Yes

36%

47%

31%

31%

No

57%

49%

64%

63%

Don't know

8%

5%

5%

5%

Back to Figure 47

Figure 48: Reasons Australians don’t read privacy policies

B21. Which of the following describes why you don’t read privacy policies? by B20. Do you normally read the privacy

 

Privacy policies are too long

Privacy policies are hard to read

It wouldn’t impact my decisions

Data privacy isn’t a consideration when choosing to use a service

Other

All Australians

66%

44%

12%

9%

6%

Normally read privacy policies

41%

26%

10%

10%

3%

Don’t normally read privacy policies / don’t know

77%

52%

13%

9%

7%

Back to Figure 48

Figure 49: Confidence in comprehension of privacy policies after reading

B22. How confident are you that you have understood a privacy policy after reading it?

 

Readership and understanding

Very confident

5%

Confident

32%

Not very confident

41%

Not confident at all

12%

Never read privacy policies

10%

Back to Figure 49

Figure 50: Confidence in comprehension of privacy policies after reading – reading habit breakdown

B20. Do you normally read the privacy policy attached to any internet site? B22. How confident are you that you have understood a privacy policy after reading it?

 

Readership and understanding

Normally read privacy policies AND confident understand

20%

Normally read privacy policies BUT NOT confident understand

14%

Don't normally read privacy policies BUT confident understand

18%

Don't normally read privacy policies AND NOT confident understand

41%

Never read privacy policies

8%

Back to Figure 50

Figure 51: Impacts of reading a privacy policy

B24. What impact, if any, does reading a privacy policy have upon your attitude towards a site? Does it make you…

 

1 - Much more

2

3 - No change

4

5 - Much less

Likely to use the site

6%

14%

57%

15%

9%

Trust the site

6%

17%

58%

12%

7%

Likely to change default privacy settings

13%

19%

53%

10%

5%

Back to Figure 51

Figure 52: Importance of specific attributes of privacy policies to Australians

B28. How important do you think it is that a privacy policy is…

 

Extremely important

Very important

Quite important

Not very important

Not important at all

Easy to understand

64%

26%

9%

1%

0%

Easy to find information I'm looking for

40%

47%

9%

0%

4%

Easy to find

48%

34%

17%

1%

1%

Short in length

31%

33%

28%

6%

1%

Comprehensive

31%

33%

30%

5%

2%

Visually appealing

22%

27%

25%

21%

5%

Back to Figure 52

Figure 53: What Australians think a privacy policy should include

B27. Some people think that privacy policies should be as short as possible, others think they should be comprehensive. With this in mind, which of the following do you think should be in all privacy policies?

 

Total Respondents

What kind of personal information is collected and held

73%

How my personal information is collected, used, held and protected

72%

A simple explanation of my privacy rights

71%

Whether my personal information is likely to be shared with overseas organisations and in which country

70%

Why (purpose) my personal information is collected, held and disclosed

69%

How long my personal information is held for

68%

What happens if there is a data breach

66%

How to access and correct my information

62%

How to complain about a privacy breach

61%

If some activities of an organisation are exempt from the Privacy Act

55%

How to deal anonymously with the organisation

48%

None of the above

4%

Back to Figure 53

Figure 54: Suggestions to improve privacy policies

B25. There have been a number of suggestions to improve the privacy policies of Australian organisations. To what extent do you support or oppose each of the following ideas?

 

Strongly
support

Support

Neither support
nor oppose

Oppose

Strongly
oppose

Icons as a visual indication that certain activities are undertaken

37%

35%

22%

4%

1%

A Plain English summary at the start explaining key elements

52%

34%

13%

1%

1%

Standard, simple language which must be used in every policy

54%

33%

12%

1%

0%

Back to Figure 54

Figure 55: Suggestions to improve privacy policies among those who don’t understand them

B25. There have been a number of suggestions to improve the privacy policies of Australian organisations. To what extent do you support or oppose each of the following ideas

 

Strongly
support

Support

Neither support
nor oppose

Oppose

Strongly
oppose

Icons as a visual indication that certain activities are undertaken

42%

34%

19%

4%

1%

A Plain English summary at the start explaining key elements

57%

30%

11%

1%

1%

Standard, simple language which must be used in every policy

59%

29%

11%

1%

0%

Back to Figure 55

Figure 56: Impact of privacy certification on trust in organisations

B26. To what extent would privacy certification make certified organisations more or less trustworthy?

 

Much more trustworthy

A little more trustworthy

No change

A little less trustworthy

Much less trustworthy

Don’t know / not sure

Privacy Certification

29%

45%

20%

2%

1%

3%

Back to Figure 56

Figure 57: Australians’ comfort with businesses tracking location

A16. How comfortable are you with each of the following data practices?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Don’t know

Comfort with digital platforms/online businesses tracking your location through your mobile or web browser

3%

11%

21%

25%

37%

3%

Back to Figure 57

Figure 58: Protection of location data

B7. Thinking about legal and other protections. How protected do you feel in regard to the following privacy rights?

 

Very well protected

Well protected

Neutral

Poorly protected

Very poorly protected

Protection of location information by laws and other protections

5%

18%

36%

30%

11%

Back to Figure 58

Figure 59: Type of information Australians are reluctant to provide to any organisation

B3. Thinking now about providing your personal information to any business, organisation or government agency, in general, what types of information are you reluctant to provide? B4. And which one of these do you feel most reluctant to provide?

 

Reluctant to provide

Most reluctant to provide

Information about my finances

73%

25%

Biometric information (e.g. fingerprints, facial scans etc.)

66%

24%

Medical or health information

60%

8%

Location data

56%

6%

Address

52%

9%

Phone number

50%

6%

Date of birth

38%

5%

Email address

30%

2%

Household composition

27%

1%

Sexual orientation

25%

1%

Name

22%

3%

Religion

21%

1%

Marital status

17%

0%

Other (please specify)

2%

1%

Don’t know

2%

4%

None of the above

4%

5%

Back to Figure 59

Figure 60: How comfortable Australians feel with collection of biometric information

A13. How comfortable are you with the following types of biometric information being collected?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Don’t know

My fingerprints

18%

25%

20%

16%

19%

3%

My facial image

11%

24%

21%

20%

21%

3%

My voice print

10%

22%

22%

20%

22%

4%

Scans of my iris or retina

11%

21%

22%

19%

23%

5%

My DNA

9%

14%

17%

18%

37%

4%

The way I walk or other physical characteristics that could be used to identify me

7%

15%

25%

21%

27%

5%

Back to Figure 60

Figure 61: Trustworthiness of organisations using biometric information

A15. In your opinion, how trustworthy are the following to collect and use biometric information?

 

Very Trustworthy

Somewhat Trustworthy

Neither trustworthy
nor ntrustworthy

Somewhat Untrustworthy

Very Untrustworthy

Government

11%

37%

22%

15%

10%

Businesses

3%

21%

31%

24%

16%

Back to Figure 61

Figure 62: How comfortable Australians feel with uses of biometric information

A14. How comfortable are you with the use of biometric information for the following purposes

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Don’t know

To verify my identity to access a government service

16%

37%

19%

13%

12%

3%

Do my day to day banking

16%

34%

20%

15%

14%

2%

Get on a flight

17%

32%

24%

13%

11%

2%

Get into my place of work or study

15%

28%

24%

13%

14%

5%

Use tech devices (e.g. a smartphone, a fitness tracker)

12%

27%

27%

17%

13%

3%

To verify my age online

12%

25%

25%

18%

18%

3%

To verify identity to access a service provided by a business

8%

25%

25%

22%

18%

3%

Go into a licensed pub, club, bar or hotel

11%

20%

23%

21%

22%

4%

Shop in a retail store

9%

16%

21%

22%

30%

2%

Back to Figure 62

Figure 63: Protection of biometric information

B7_3. Thinking about legal and other protections. How protected do you feel in regard to the following privacy rights?

 

Very well protected

Well protected

Neutral

Poorly protected

Very poorly protected

Protection of biometric information by laws and other protections

8%

27%

38%

20%

7%

Back to Figure 63

Figure 64: General beliefs about AI technology

B19. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Decisions made or assisted by AI technology will generally result in fairer decisions than if made by a human

6%

17%

45%

22%

9%

I am generally happy for AI technology to be used if it reduces the cost of a product or service

7%

27%

38%

19%

9%

Back to Figure 64

Figure 65: Attitudes towards being informed when AI technology is used

B19. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

People should have the right to know if a decision affecting them is made using AI

46%

37%

13%

2%

1%

When AI technology is used in making decisions, people should be told what factors and personal information are considered and how these are weighted

39%

38%

18%

3%

1%

Back to Figure 65

Figure 66: Attitudes towards human oversight of decisions made by AI

B19. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

People should have a right to have a human review any decision made using AI – even if this costs the organisation money

44%

38%

14%

3%

2%

It is important that there is a human being responsible for any decisions made by AI

39%

40%

16%

4%

1%

Back to Figure 66

Figure 67: Comfort with organisations using AI to make decisions

B17. How comfortable do you feel about public sector organisations using AI to make decisions about you, using your personal information? / B18. How comfortable do you feel about private sector organisations using AI to make decisions about you, using your personal information?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Don’t know

Comfort in public sector organisations using AI to make decisions about you, using your personal information

5%

19%

24%

28%

22%

3%

Comfort in private sector organisations using AI to make decisions about you, using your personal information

3%

10%

20%

31%

33%

3%

Back to Figure 67

Figure 68: Parents’ concerns about the protection of personal information

C5. How concerned are you about the protection of your own personal information? C6. How concerned are you about the protection of the personal information of your child?

 

Very concerned

Somewhat concerned

Not very concerned

Not at all concerned

Don’t know

Concern about the protection of the personal information of your child

51%

40%

6%

2%

1%

Concern about the protection of your own personal information

37%

46%

13%

4%

1%

Back to Figure 68

Figure 69: Parents’ levels of comfort with businesses using their child’s personal information

C14. Still thinking of children’s data privacy. How comfortable are you with each of the following?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

Businesses tracking the location of a child without permission

8%

12%

10%

8%

61%

Businesses obtaining personal information about a child and selling it to third parties

9%

12%

10%

8%

61%

Businesses targeting ads to children based on information they have obtained by tracking a child online

8%

13%

14%

18%

46%

Businesses being able to obtain information about a child and infer sensitive information about them

11%

12%

14%

15%

48%

Back to Figure 69

Figure 70: Children's ownership of devices and social media accounts

C3. To your knowledge, which of the following do they currently have?

 

2-5 years

6-9 years

10-13 years

14-17 years

Their own mobile phone

9%

13%

55%

81%

Access to someone else’s mobile

22%

28%

22%

15%

Their own laptop, tablet or PC

18%

46%

63%

76%

Their own login on a shared laptop, tablet or PC

7%

19%

25%

31%

Access to a home assistant device

7%

24%

16%

29%

A connected toy or device

10%

30%

19%

22%

Back to Figure 70

Figure 71: Children’s online accounts

C3. To your knowledge, which of the following do they currently have? - Ownership of devices and social media accounts.

 

2-5 years

6-9 years

10-13 years

14-17 years

Their own, personal social media account

7%

10%

34%

73%

Their own, personal email account

4%

10%

48%

72%

An online gaming account

4%

23%

46%

34%

A kid’s version of an online service

34%

34%

28%

11%

Back to Figure 71

Figure 72: Parents’ beliefs on children’s data privacy

C13. Thinking about children’s data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Unsure

Technology in schools and for education should only collect the minimum personal information necessary for the service

56%

31%

11%

1%

1%

1%

Children should have the right to grow up without being profiled and targeted

59%

25%

10%

4%

0%

1%

Children must be empowered to use the internet and online services, but their data privacy must also be protected in this environment

50%

32%

14%

3%

0%

1%

I am concerned about the increasing privacy risk of internet-connected children’s toys

37%

35%

20%

5%

1%

2%

I often have to provide unnecessary personal information about my child/children to use services

19%

30%

29%

13%

6%

3%

Back to Figure 72

Figure 73: Measures taken to protect child’s privacy

 

Figure 74: Measures to increase the data privacy of children online

C12. How much do you support or oppose each of the following measures to increase the data privacy of children online?

 

Strongly support

Support

Neither support nor oppose

Oppose

Strongly oppose

unsure

A company must provide important data privacy information to children in clear language that is not misleading

60%

25%

11%

2%

1%

1%

Default privacy settings for children must be set to high-privacy

60%

24%

11%

2%

1%

2%

Profiling and targeted advertising must not occur for children

56%

27%

13%

3%

0%

1%

Businesses must be able to verify the age of a child before they proceed to collect information about that child

58%

24%

14%

2%

0%

2%

Businesses should only collect the minimum amount of data needed about children to provide the service

53%

28%

13%

3%

1%

1%

Geo-location tracking must be switched off by default

51%

25%

15%

3%

1%

5%

Back to Figure 74

Figure 75: Proportion of parents who feel they are in control of their child’s data privacy

C13. Thinking about children’s data privacy, to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Unsure

I feel I am in control of my child/children’s data privacy

26%

36%

24%

10%

2%

2%

Back to Figure 75

Figure 76: Parents who avoided using a service to protect their child’s personal information

C7. Have you ever avoided, or tried to avoid using a service or tool to protect your [child’s] personal information?

 

Total respondents

Have avoided using a service or tool

34%

Tried to avoid using a service or tool, but decided to use it anyway

21%

None of the above

36%

Don’t know

14%

Back to Figure 76

Figure 77: Parents protecting child’s personal information online

C8. Thinking about protecting your child’s personal information online, which of the following best applies to you?

 

I do everything I can to protect their personal information online

I do what I can, but I would like to do more

I do not actively do anything

Don’t know

Total

47%

36%

13%

4%

2-5 years

51%

29%

14%

6%

6-9 years

52%

36%

7%

5%

10-13 years

50%

40%

8%

2%

14-17 years

37%

41%

19%

3%

Back to Figure 77

Figure 78: Reasons for not doing more to protect personal information of their child

C9. What are the main reasons for not doing more to protect the personal information of your child?

 

Australian parents

It is not clear to me how I can protect [his/her] personal information whilst using a service

38%

Not enough time

18%

Comparing privacy policies is too difficult

17%

It is for my child/children to decide

13%

I don’t think the risks are significant

13%

My child’s need or desire to use a particular service is more important

10%

I had no choice but to sign up to use the services

10%

Their data privacy was not a concern

10%

Back to Figure 78

Figure 79: Appropriate age for children to start learning about data privacy

C10. At what age do you think is most appropriate for children to start learning about data privacy and the protection of their personal information? / C11. What age do you think is most appropriate for your child to consent to handing over their personal information in exchange for an online service?

 

Age to start learning

Age to consent to handling PI

1 - 3 years

7%

2%

4 - 6 years

36%

9%

7 - 9 years

24%

7%

10 - 12 years

20%

14%

13 - 15 years

6%

24%

16 - 18 years

3%

38%

N/A

0%

0%

Don’t know

5%

6%

Back to Figure 79

Figure 80: Children’s ownership of devices and social media accounts

C3. To your knowledge, which of the following do they currently have? - Ownership of devices and social media accounts

 

2 - 5 years

6 - 8 years

9 - 11 years

12 - 14 years

15 - 17 years

Their own laptop/tablet/PC

18%

48%

57%

61%

80%

Their own mobile phone

9%

9%

38%

69%

82%

Their own social media account

7%

8%

19%

51%

76%

An online gaming account

4%

21%

40%

43%

35%

Back to Figure 80

Figure 82: Privacy concerns since COVID-19

A10. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly Agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

My privacy is more at risk in a COVID-19 environment than usual

11%

39%

38%

11%

1%

Back to Figure 82

Figure 83: Changes in concerns about the protection of their personal information overall

A1. How much more or less concerned are you about the protection of your personal information overall as a result of the management of COVID-19 in Australia?

 

Much more concerned

A little more concerned

No change

A little less concerned

Much less concerned

Overall concerns about protection of personal information as a result of management of COVID-19 in Australia

26%

28%

44%

1%

1%

Back to Figure 83

Figure 84: Concerns about protection of personal information since the COVID-19 outbreak

A8. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, do you feel more or less concerned about each of the following?

 

Much more concerned

A little more concerned

No Change

A little less concerned

Much less concerned

N/A

Protection of your location information stored by organisations or devices (e.g. mobile phones)

14%

34%

44%

4%

1%

2%

Protection of your medical information stored by private organisations

14%

30%

49%

4%

1%

2%

Protection of your medical information stored by government agencies

13%

27%

52%

5%

1%

2%

Back to Figure 84

Figure 85: Biggest privacy risks people face in the context of COVID-19 crisis

A2. What do you think are the biggest privacy risks that face people in the context of the COVID-19 crisis? / A8. What do you think are the biggest privacy risks that face people today?

 

During COVID-19 (%)

Pre COVID-19 (%)

Identity theft / fraud

37%

76%

Data security / Data breaches

35%

61%

Location tracking

32%

48%

Social media sites

30%

58%

Smart phones / apps

29%

49%

Surveillance by Australian government

27%

26%

Surveillance of Australians by foreign entities

24%

35%

Surveillance by Australian private / corporate entities

21%

n/a

Sending information overseas

19%

41%

ID scanning (e.g. to enter a venue)

17%

28%

Profiling

17%

31%

Workplace privacy

16%

17%

Credit reporting

16%

27%

Artificial Intelligence

13%

24%

Other

1%

2%

Don’t know

20%

4%

Back to Figure 85

Figure 86: Proportion of Australians working or studying from home as a result of COVID-19

A3. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which of the following apply to you?

 

Readership and understanding

Have been working or studying from home

53%

No change – continue to work from normal workplace

15%

Don’t know

1%

None of these

30%

Back to Figure 86

Figure 87: Changes in work/study made since the COVID-19 pandemic

A3. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which of the following apply to you?

 

Total respondents

You have been doing some work from home

32%

Others in your household have been doing some work from home

18%

You have been supervising people under 18 who are doing some study from home

15%

You have been doing some study from home

12%

Others in your household are doing some study from home, but you are not supervising them, or are over 18

7%

No change – continue to work from normal workplace

15%

Don’t know

1%

None of these

30%

Back to Figure 87

Figure 88: Comfort with protection of personal information while working/studying at home

A4. How comfortable do you feel about the following aspects of your privacy, with some members of your household working and / or studying from home?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

N/A

The protection of your personal information disclosed as a result of working from home

15%

30%

29%

16%

5%

5%

The protection of your households’ personal information with higher use of video and audio communication services

16%

31%

29%

18%

4%

2%

The protection of your or others’ personal information with most education being conducted online

15%

34%

28%

16%

4%

2%

Back to Figure 88

Figure 89: 110 Comfort with protection of personal information in telehealth conferences or by employees working from home

A5. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, there have been many changes in the way people work, across a large number of companies and government departments. In this context, how comfortable or uncomfortable are you with?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

N/A

The protection of your personal information when it is being handled by employees of other organisations working from home

10%

25%

30%

18%

8%

9%

The sharing of health information using telehealth conferences

15%

30%

28%

14%

7%

6%

 

Back to Figure 89

Figure 90: Beliefs around the concessions that must be made during the COVID-19 outbreak

A10. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

 

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Some concessions must be made on privacy to combat COVID-19 for the greater good

13%

47%

28%

9%

3%

Some concessions must be made on privacy to combat COVID-19 so long as the changes aren’t permanent