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Consumers' privacy concerns grow

News, 25 January 2017
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FRAMINGHAM, MASS: The issue of digital privacy appears to be troubling a growing number of US consumers, recent research and online search trends have indicated.

A survey of 2,500 consumers by IDC looked at key areas of privacy concern for consumers across four vertical industries (Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail, and Government). This found that 84% of respondents were concerned about the security of their personally identifiable information, and seven in ten are more worried today than they were two years ago.

The survey further reported that younger consumers, aged 18-35, demonstrated a higher concern than their 36-50 year-old counterparts and said that hyper awareness and growing sensitivity toward data exposure appear to have consumers on the verge of making serious changes in their behavior.

But whether they will make the next step remains to be seen. Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, observed at this month's PrivacyCon event in Washington, DC, that consumers were downloading ad blockers in record numbers, but "we all know that consumers don't hesitate to use websites and apps that collect enormous amounts of information despite their stated concerns about privacy".

One possible sign of change is the growing popularity of privacy-focused search engines like DuckDuckGo and StartPage.com, Google alternatives that promise not to track their users..

DuckDuckGo recently revealed that it has served more than 10bn searches since launch in 2008, with 4bn of those searches occurring in 2016. "People are actively seeking out ways to reduce their digital footprint online," it said.

Sean Pike, program vice president, Security Products and eDiscovery & Information Governance at IDC, suggested that consumers were beginning to feel "overly connected and may yearn for greater anonymity".

Consequently, when their private information is put at risk they are more likely than before to change buyer behavior or shift loyalty.

Data sourced from IDC, AdExchanger, DuckDuckGo; additional content by Warc staff

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