Our personal data is not that personal anymore and it changes hands at a pace faster than we can imagine. Come to think of it. We are all on mailing lists which we either don’t remember joining or don’t want to be on. Yet we get those emails in bulk. Not to forget the ads and persistent spam calls.
It’s all a result of some information we gave somewhere at some point in time. But did we really agree to this extensive use of our data? More importantly how safe is our information online?
To understand what Indian’s think about data protection and privacy, Piplsay reached out to over 180000 people across the country and this is what we found out.
Consent is still not the king
A huge majority of those surveyed seem to understand quite well that their personal data is being continuously monitored and used by marketing and data mining firms. Youngsters in the age group of 18-24 seem to be least aware of this fact though despite spending most of their time online.
Interestingly and contrary to popular perception, most Indians seem to read the fine print before agreeing to terms and agreements of mobile app and service providers. Yet, consent does not seem like a big factor for most people despite the cautious approach.
Almost 50% respondents told Piplsay that they are very comfortable with their personal data being used by businesses without their permission
How much is too much?
Youngsters in the age group of 25-34 seemed most at ease with this idea, making up almost half the numbers. This level of tolerance mostly comes from the belief that their data at worst can be used by companies that want to advertise to them.
On one of the most important questions on data privacy, over 60% people feel that mobile apps ask for too many intrusive permissions before granting access. While some are regular ones like reading SMS and call logs, others like access to camera and microphones can be extremely invasive and potentially risky too.
In fact, a report by data privacy consultant Arrka estimates that Indian apps seek 3.5 times more dangerous permissions from users than US apps. Among them, Communication and finance apps like mobile wallets fare the worst
This apparent discomfort could stem from the fear of data misuse. Almost half of the people surveyed by Piplsay believe that their data can be manipulated for business and political gains.
The issue gains significance especially in light of Facebook’s recent scandals – be it the Cambridge Analytica data misuse or its data sharing agreements with device makers. Mobile apps are huge data collectors themselves having deep access to millions of their users’ actions and behavior.
Drawing the line
The potential overuse, as well as misuse of user data, has been a long-standing global debate with calls for a regulation fast gaining momentum
More than 8 out of 10 people firmly believe that India should have a regulation that can empower users with greater control over how their data is collected, processed and used
Data privacy as an issue is not new to India. Though we do not have data privacy laws as such, successive governments have been mulling over bringing one without much success. But that may soon change, especially with such huge public support as revealed by the Piplsay survey.
The European Union-led General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has already set the ball rolling for business accountability and transparency. More importantly, it gives ownership of data back to the users. And quite rightly so.
After all, it is your personal information and you should know what’s being done with it.