Aussies concerned about online privacy yet don’t use privacy tools: Survey

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Despite growing concerns over online privacy, Australians are not using readily available methods to protect themselves online, according to the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner.

This finding was revealed through the 2017 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy survey which found that 69 per cent of Australians felt more concerned about their online privacy than they did five years ago.

It also found 83 per cent of participants believed privacy risks are greater online than offline.

However, despite these concerns, the survey found Australians are not using existing privacy tools to adequately protect themselves online.

Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said both individual responsibility and better business practice both played a part in ensuring best privacy protection.

He said although more Australians are aware of the privacy risks, this awareness need to shift into action where already available tools are used to safeguard personal information.

“While 61 per cent of us check website security, our results found that over 65 per cent of Australians do not read privacy policies, and half do not regularly adjust privacy settings on social media, or clear their browsing history,” Pilgrim said.

“These are options that we can all use to better protect our privacy. If you are shopping or socialising online, I encourage you to take the time to protect your privacy first.”

Pilgrim said more can be done by businesses to make privacy easy for customers to manage.

“Those long-winded privacy notices and complex settings need to be replaced by clear language and point-in-time notifications,” he said.

“Some are doing this well, but others need to lift their game, because our survey shows the majority of Australians have decided not to deal with a business due to privacy concerns.”

The survey found Australians believe the biggest risks to privacy are online services including social media (32 per cent), identity fraud and theft (19 per cent), data breaches and security (17 per cent) and risks to financial data (12 per cent).

It also showed participants are uncomfortable with businesses sharing their personal information with other organisations and concerned about companies sending their personal information overseas.