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Privacy Concerns Remain for Smart Device Users in Australia

Consumers willing to trade certain types of personal data for offers

Smart devices have quickly made inroads in the lives of internet users in Australia. eMarketer projects that smartphone penetration in the country will reach 54% of the population by the end of 2013. That is the second-highest smartphone penetration worldwide, behind only South Korea.

Data from a September to October 2012 survey of internet users in Australia ages 18 or older conducted by Harris Interactive for security technology firm McAfee found smartphone ownership among this group to be even higher, at 64%. The higher penetration rate makes sense given the older base studied. The survey also reported a tablet ownership rate of 29% among internet users 18 and older.

But despite the high levels of ownership of these devices, smart device users in Australia indicated clear concerns about potential threats to their personal information when using downloaded apps. Almost four in 10 smartphone and tablet owners polled were either extremely or very concerned that their personal details could be stolen when using apps, while just over four in 10 were somewhat concerned. About one in 10 did not download mobile apps at all.

Respondents did indicate, though, that they would be willing to exchange certain types of personal information for offers of some value, such as discounts or information about future offers. Users in Australia were least guarded about their email address, with seven in 10 willing to reveal it. More than half were willing to provide either their name or age, while almost four in 10 said they would share their mobile phone number. Aside from personal financial information, respondents were least willing to part with their physical address.

With an increasing number of people in Australia adopting smartphones and tablets, it’s unlikely that security concerns regarding the use of smart devices are going to dissipate any time soon. But marketers should also bear in mind that security concerns don’t automatically translate to a complete lack of willingness to share information, as long as consumers feel they are getting something in return.

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Check out today’s other articles, “More Shoppers Reach for Mobile to Browse, Buy” and “Consumers Seek Health Research, Diagnosis Tools Online.”

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