Australian Attitudes to Privacy

Lonergan Research was commissioned by The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to run The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS) in 2023 to provide a comprehensive view of Australians’ privacy attitudes and experiences and how recent events have impacted them.

The report, which was released publicly in August 2023, highlighted the growing awareness of privacy matters and the rising incidence of privacy breaches, including scams, phishing attacks, and the much-publicised data breaches that occurred in the tail end of 2022. An increase in the use of artificial intelligence to make decisions about people using their personal information, and an uptake in the use of biometric data collection also has people worried, and most want to see some restrictions or framework in place to police these emerging technologies.

Australians are more concerned than ever about their privacy online, but most don’t know how they can protect themselves. The older generations of Australians feel particularly vulnerable but are reasonably astute when it comes to sharing their information online. Conversely, younger adults are more likely to have a more casual approach to their personal information, with the majority using the same passwords for multiple sites, not checking the validity of email links before clicking on them and are also more likely to feel resigned to the opinion that their data is already out of their control.

Other key take outs from the report were:

•      Australians care about their privacy. Nine in 10 Australians have a clear understanding of why they should protect their personal information, and 62% see the protection of their personal information as a major concern in their life.

•      Australians don’t feel in control of their privacy and don’t know what to do about it. Only 32% feel in control of their privacy, and half believe if they want to use a service, they have no choice but to accept what the service does with their data. Three in five care about their data privacy, but don’t know what to do about it.

•      Most Australians have had a negative privacy experience. Forty-seven per cent were told by an organisation that their personal information was involved in a data breach in the year prior, and three-quarters said they experienced harm because of a data breach.

•      Australians have strong feelings about certain data practices. Nine in 10 are concerned about organisations sending customers’ information overseas. Ninety six per cent want conditions in place before artificial intelligence is used to make decisions that might affect them.

•      There are high levels of distrust. Only four sectors (health, federal government, finance and education) are more trusted than not by Australians to handle their personal information. Less than half of people trust organisations to only collect the information they need, use and share information as they say they will, store information securely, give individuals access to their information and delete information when no longer needed.

•      Australians want more to be done to protect privacy. Eighty four per cent want more control and choice over the collection and use of their information. Around nine in 10 Australians would like businesses and government agencies to do more to protect their personal information.

The full report, and accompanying videos and infographics, can be downloaded here from the OAIC website.