More than 60% fear brands are using their data to ‘stalk’ them

Over 60 per cent of consumers have stopped buying from brands that ‘stalk’ them online by using their data, according to new research.

A survey of 8,000 consumers in the UK, France, India and the USA by Arlington Research on behalf of data analytics solution provider Truata also found over three quarters (77 per cent) believed that data held digitally about them should be their own property, not an asset owned by a company.

The same percentage (77 per cent) said that data privacy was ‘essential’ to them, with the majority (62 per cent) saying this was likely to become more important to them in the next two years, as more services, retail and entertainment move online.

When it comes to feeling ‘stalked’ online by personalised adverts and recommendations, 61 per cent of consumers say they would stop using brands if they felt this way, while almost two thirds (63 per cent) agree they would stop using /buying from brands if they don’t demonstrate that they care about being responsible with their personal data.

Nearly half of consumers (45 per cent) said data tracking for personalisation is invasive, while 32 per cent go as far as saying it’s creepy, and 24 per cent said it was sinister.

The findings, which coincide with the two-year anniversary of the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in Europe, also reveal that consumers are beginning to question the effectiveness of such regulations, as six-in-ten (59 per cent) think most companies don’t believe in the importance of data protection, and simply see it as a tick-box exercise to comply with data protection regulations.

However, this sense of a lack of control is also compounded by a lack of understanding of personal data being collected, with 65 per cent of consumers saying they still don’t know exactly what data, and how much, is being retained by brands.

Eight-in-ten (78 per cent) global consumers have taken one or more steps to reduce their digital footprint. The same number of consumers (78 per cent) have taken action to avoid sharing their personal data with brands, from using private browsing modes to even falsifying their personal details.

Commenting on the findings, Felix Marx, chief executive of Truata, said: “Our digital lives are being shaped before us via our personal data, and our report highlights that consumers want to reclaim control of their data in today’s digital age. What’s also alarming is the steps they will take to protect it from cavalier or inappropriate use by organisations.”

He added:“Brands are now able to build ever more detailed profiles of us from our digital footprint, but when it comes to using our personal information to build relationships, there is clearly a fine line between being helpful and behaving ethically, to being invasive and creepy.”

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