Study: 70% of Australians Unaware of Data Profiling, Feel Hopeless About Privacy Rights

According to a recent Consumer Policy Research Centre study, 70% of Australians do not know how many companies can profile them and collect data from them. They feel hopeless and frustrated when it comes to data brokers sharing their personal information with the companies. Most of their online activity is monitored by data brokers and then they sell this information to highest bidder. These companies profile users and use this information to make profit from them. 

These companies or businesses often term this kind of information about their consumers as “not personal” so they do not get charged a fine because of violation of the Federal Privacy Act. These companies use terms like anonymized data, pseudonymised information, hashed emails, audience data and aggregated information as these words have no proper definition according to law. Data brokers use these terms to make a profile and share it to businesses without the knowledge of consumers. Anonymized Information may sound like it has no definition and it won’t reveal anything personal but some companies use it when the email and name have been removed but other information that can characterize a person is still available.

The survey found out that Australians think that they have no power over their personal data as it can be used anywhere by the companies. Only a one-third of Australians think that they still have a little bit of control over their data. Most Australian consumers do not know what terms in privacy notices like hashed email address and advertising ID means. It is definitely worse than this study shows as not many people are aware of this. These terms mean that our personal data is going to be used without our knowledge. But when consumers do not understand the terms, they are more likely to believe that their data is secure.

Most consumers do think that it is not right for a business they have no direct contact with to use their personal data and information like that. Making people understand and educate about these types of terms isn’t the only solution. It’s because no one is completely sure about the meaning of these terms and also because a layman cannot understand these technical terms that easily. The only solution to this problem is a law should be made in Australia that will protect personal data of the consumers and a fair and reasonable test for data handling. These two things can prevent consumers from giving out their personal data to data brokers freely.

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