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80% of People Think Data Privacy No Longer Exists

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Privacy is dead. At least, that’s how some people feel. A recent survey says 80% of consumers ages 20 to 40 think total data privacy no longer exists, and 87% of the survey respondents think their personal information is not being adequately protected by the companies that store it.

The data is based on an online survey of 2,012 U.S. and U.K. consumers. The study was conducted in May and April on behalf of Accenture, a global consulting company, and reached people of varying income, ethnicity and socio-demographics. The margin of error was not disclosed on the survey report.

If anything is private, people seem to think it’s a very small portion of the total data they generate: 40% said they think only up to 10% of their data is actually private. On top of that, the majority of respondents did not think companies are transparent enough about how they’re going to use the consumer data.

At the same time, 84% are aware that data tracking allows companies to contact them with recommendations and information consumers may find interesting based on previous activity, and 55% of consumers said they find product recommendations helpful for future purchases. When it comes to how that information gets passed along, the survey respondents overwhelmingly favored email (92% said they are comfortable with email communication from vendors). Phone calls? Not so much: 73% are uncomfortable with brands contacting them via phone. Social media was the second-most acceptable marketing channel (61% comfortable), followed by text message (59% comfortable).

People don’t seem to expect privacy much these days, which isn’t surprising, given the prevalence of data breaches and hacking incidents. Still, data tracking would be more palatable if consumers had more control, the survey findings suggest. When it comes to company transparency on data collection, 51% said it’s important to them to receive email updates on how their data is being used, and 44% want companies to give them an opportunity to opt out of data tracking.

In the U.S., consumers don’t have much control over the data they generate, and it’s practically impossible to keep track of it yourself. The law hasn’t quite caught up to technology, but it’s not a complete free-for-all: Data used in lending decisions, like credit reports and credit scores, are regulated, and you can easily request them. You can get free annual copies of your credit reports and two of your free credit scores from Credit.com.

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