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Majority of Australians are against companies collecting financial data

by Reporter5 minute read
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A new survey has found that the vast majority of Australians consider it “unacceptable” for companies to collect personal financial data for marketing or sales purposes.

According to a recent Roy Morgan study of consumer attitudes towards online privacy, 77 per cent of the 967 respondents said they thought it was “very unacceptable” for companies to collect personal financial data online for the purpose of tailoring adverts and offers to them, while a further 15 per cent said it was “somewhat unacceptable”.

Scraping the contents of emails and other messages was regarded as “very unacceptable” by 69 per cent of survey participants, while 20 per cent thought it was “somewhat unacceptable”.

Additionally, 74 per cent expressed that the collection of health and medical data for the purpose of personalising ads and offers was “very unacceptable”, while 15 per cent regarded the practice as “somewhat unacceptable”.

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Less than 5 per cent of survey participants found any of these activities either “very acceptable” or “somewhat acceptable”.

However, despite the overwhelming majority of Australians indicating their disapproval for the collection of personal information, 54 per cent admitted to “rarely” or “never” reading terms and conditions prior to signing up to online services.

Around 15 per cent of participants expressed they “always” or “often” read terms and conditions prior to registration.

The Roy Morgan study further identified the types of information that Australians are least comfortable with companies sharing with third parties.

Four-fifths (80 per cent) did not want photos of their children or family to be shared with third parties, while a similar proportion did not want companies to share the unique ID number of their mobile phone/device and their messages (77.2 per cent), their financial information/credit history (76.4 per cent), phone contacts (74.9 per cent) and medical/health information (70 per cent).

More than half of the survey participants, or 52.9 per cent, claimed that they would not want their location data or residential address being shared with third parties, while 51.6 per cent were uncomfortable with their purchase or transaction history being shared.

Speaking of the findings, Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, said that there was a “disconnect” between the rights of consumers to expect a certain degree of privacy with regards to their personal information, and the business models of social media companies that “rely on stockpiling data on consumers to sell advertising”.

The survey comes ahead of new legislation that will grant Australians a new right to access, amend and share data, including financial data, that companies hold about them.

The Consumer Data Right (CDR) is part of the impending open banking regime, set to come into effect on 1 July 2019, which will require banks to make data available on credit and debit card, deposit and transaction accounts by 1 July 2019, and mortgages by 1 February 2020, so long as it is explicitly permitted by the customer.

The CDR, which will be available to both individual and business customers, is intended to:

  • improve customer choice by allowing data to be shared between accredited recipients;
  • give customers the ability to better negotiate deals or switch to more suitable products;
  • encourage competition and innovation in participating industries; and
  • improve the flow of information.

At the start of this month, the comprehensive credit reporting (CCR) regime came into effect, requiring banks to report the credit history of 50 per cent of their customers by the end of September 2018, and the remaining accounts by the same time next year.

It was revealed last week that hardship customers would be exempt from the CCR regime following advocacy efforts from bodies like the Australian Banking Association, which urged the government to ensure that Australians that have experienced financial difficulties in the past are not unfairly denied products and services.

[Related: Mortgage data to fall under Consumer Data Right]

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