Concerns Over Mobile Privacy Remain Strong: Pew Survey
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
According to a new survey, more than half of app users have decided not to install an app or have gone so far as to uninstall it due to concerns about personal information. This was among the key findings of new study by the Pew Internet Project that was released on Wednesday.
The study further found that many cell phone users still take steps to manage, control and even protect their personal data on mobile devices. Of those surveyed 54 percent of app users responded that they may have decided not to install a cell phone app when it was discovered how much personal information would be shared in order to use it; while 30 percent of app users actually uninstalled an app that was already on their mobile phone after learning that it was collecting personal information that the user did not wish to share.
The survey found that it wasn´t a particular handset platform or OS that was leading the way either. Pew Internet reported that owners of Android and iPhone devices were just as likely to either avoid or delete apps over concerns about personal information being shared.
And, while many PC users are still in need of regular backups, it seems the message on handsets is getting through, as 41 percent of mobile handset owners were backing up photos, contacts and other files on their devices should it be broken or lost.
Owners are also apparently looking to cover their tracks on mobile devices as well, as 32 percent of handset owners responded that they had cleared the browsing history or search history in the mobile browsers on devices. Fewer people however were as concerned about the phones´ ability to track a user.
Only 19 percent of mobile handset owners had actually turned off the location tracking feature on mobile phones — but those who did turn it off did so over concerns that other individuals or companies could access that information.
The reason for this level of concern could be that unlike with a PC — especially a desktop device — nearly one third of mobile phone owners had experienced a lost or stolen handset, and 12 percent of respondents had another person access the contents of a mobile device in a way that made them feel violated or that privacy was invaded.
Of those who actually experienced a lost or stolen handset were no more likely than the average user to back up the device´s content however, suggesting that those who do so were not already affected by a lost device. However, it is the younger users who tend to lose or have their device stolen, or otherwise accessed.
Of those mobile device owners aged 18-24 some 45 percent of respondents to the survey said that they had a phone that was lost or stolen, while 24 percent said that someone else had accessed their phone in a way that compromised the owners´ privacy.
The survey also found that smartphone owners remain the most active in managing mobile handset data but also experience greater exposure to privacy intrusions. Six in 10 smartphone owners reportedly said that they back up the contents of their devices, whilst half cleared the browser history — including search — and one third turned off location feature.
Despite this diligence, smartphone owners are also twice as likely as other handset users to experience someone accessing their devices, while smartphone owners are equally likely to lose a device or have it stolen. Maybe all mobile users need to consider privacy just a bit more, but also hang on to that device!