How Much is Your Online Privacy Worth to You?

Data is the currency of the future; EMC conducted a global Privacy Index Survey, which revealed the results and concerns of consumers on the issue of online privacy. EMC took a special focus on results from the Middle East Privacy Index Survey that covered 1000 consumers across UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The index revealed consumers attitudes towards the trade-off between privacy and convenience at its event in Dubai.

Global Consumer Attitudes

The global survey showed that online privacy attitudes fell into 3 broad categories.

  1. ‘We Want It All: The paradoxical consumer: They want convenience and speed without having to trade any amount of privacy.
  2. ‘Take No Action’: The consumer who is aware of data breaches and privacy problems but doesn’t proactively take any measures to protect their own privacy.
  3. ‘Social Sharing’: The consumers who are power-users on social media and constantly share large packets of personal information through social media sites, despite being aware of privacy issues. They show low confidence in the ability of organisations sworn to protect their privacy.

Privacy versus Convenience

As Mohammed Amin, Senior VP and Regional Manager for Turkey, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Middle East observed,“It’s a tough balancing act for technology. People’s responses toward the trade-off between privacy and convenience differ.” He noted that if we look globally 48% of Indians and 43% of Mexicans were more willing to trade in privacy for convenience. EU countries however, especially Germany, showed that 71% wouldn’t opt for convenience over privacy sighting that efficient services were widely available offline and consumers had less of a need to turn to the internet and sacrifice their personal data for further convenience.

Habib Mahakian, Regional Manager for Pakistan and the Gulf Region, agreed with Amin that the balance between privacy and convenience was a tough one. He further stated that privacy awareness in the Gulf region was not as high as other more developed markets. “I believe that creating a public-private partnership to enhance education on this issue will go a long way in ensuring a better balance between privacy and convenience.” Education on privacy begins with simple protection techniques like changing your password regularly.

Results from the Gulf Region

Just about 57% believed that the government would protect their privacy, yet another 70% expected that over the next five years a higher percentage of privacy would be sacrificed and about 56% said they felt they enjoyed less privacy now than even just a year ago. The infographic below denotes how the different personas value privacy at varied levels in this region.

Willing to trade privacy for convenience.
Willing to trade privacy for convenience.
Concern For Future Privacy
Concern For Future Privacy

The Future of Privacy

Speaking on the future privacy concerns of consumers Mohammed Amin believes that that technology will mature faster everyday so privacy will become a collective responsibility. The safeguards and technologies have to be simple enough for the over-50 generation and yet sophisticated enough to outsmart the modern hacker.

Habib Mahakian is confident that while technology leaders like EMC will continue taking the lead in initiatives that explore and educate the population on the issue of privacy, the greatest responsibility would still lie with the public and private sector partnerships.

The current scenario in the Middle East is a mixed bag of privacy and convenience concerns but the one thing revealed by this Survey is unmistakable. The issue of privacy versus convenience is becoming more significant each day, especially with the growing dependence on cloud computing and big data. It’s clear that technology will have to work harder and smarter to find a better balance between the two.

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