Australian consumers are adamant that organisations should not track their behaviour without getting explicit permission first, according to research commissioned by Which-50.

It’s clear from the survey results, conducted by Pureprofile, that most people, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers, are very protective of their privacy.

“There were similar results regardless of the proposed mechanism for online behaviour tracking, whether it was Facebook, YouTube, cookies or third parties," said Pureprofile COO Melinda Sheppard. “More than 90% rejected the notion that companies should be allowed to track them online without prior permission,” she reported.

The survey found that 86% of consumers rejected the use of cookies to track them across the web. The strongest hostility was among Baby Boomers, 97% of whom rejected the practice in the absence of explicit permission. But even amongst the most tolerant cohort, Gen Z, the sentiment ran eight-to-one against.

In addition, 92% of consumers said companies should not be allowed to track their online behaviour on the internet using a unique mobile phone device ID without their clear permission.

With the dominant platforms, 93% of consumers said it was unacceptable for Facebook to track them without such approval, while 94% of consumers demanded explicit consent before Google’s YouTube tracked them.

Consumers also overwhelmingly rejected the practice of organisations tracking them using data acquired from third parties – again, unless they expressed consent to such behaviour.

A large majority (70%) of those surveyed said they wanted the definition of personal information in the Australian Privacy Act upgraded to include technical data such as IP addresses, device IDs, or location data.

Such a move would extend protections already found in the Telecommunications Act into the Privacy Act. Sources have told Which-50 that the ACCC wants to move privacy law under consumer law, which will have significant implications for marketers.

Sheppard said the Telecommunications Act already covers technical data such as IP addresses, device IDs, location data. “I suspect a large majority of people don’t realise this, which is worrying.”

The study surveyed 1,000 consumers about their attitudes to common adtech industry behaviours, such as cookie tracking, device ID tracking, and the purchase of third-party consumer data.

Sourced from Which-50; additional content by WARC staff