Berkeley Research: Americans' Hostility to Data Gathering in Mobile Payments Said to Call for Ban on Personal-Information Requests

By Louis Trager, Washington Internet Daily

"Americans overwhelmingly oppose the revelation of contact information (phone number, email address, and home address) to merchants" when purchases are made with mobile payments, a survey for University of California-Berkeley researchers found.  Even more oppose tracking of shoppers' movements by mobile phones, according to a paper posted late Tuesday to the Social Science Research Network (http://xrl.us/bm446u). 

The researchers proposed adapting a California retail-privacy law to cover mobile payments.  Nokia paid for the survey by Chris Hoofnagle, Jennifer Urban and Su Li, which Princeton Survey Research Associates International took from late January to mid-February by phone calls to a representative sample of about 1,200 adult American Internet users, the paper says.

Asked whether "phones should share information with stores when they visit and browse without making a purchase," 96 percent objected -- "79 percent stating that they would 'definitely not allow' it and 17 percent stating that they would 'probably not allow' it," the paper says.  Eighty-one percent "objected to the transfer of their telephone number to a store where they purchase goods," it says.  "Only 15 percent would 'probably allow' such sharing, and 3 percent would definitely allow it. ... Eighty-one percent said that they either definitely or probably would not allow sharing of their home address with a retailer."  Fourteen "percent would probably allow such sharing, and 3 percent would definitely allow it. ...  Thirty-three percent would be willing or probably willing to share email addresses at the register.  Still, 51 percent stated that they would definitely not allow their emails to be shared, and 16 percent stated that they probably would not allow it."

About "three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans said that they are 'not at all likely' or 'not too likely' to adopt mobile payment systems," the paper says.  "Just 24 percent say that they are likely to adopt mobile payments."  Attitudes vary by age, the researchers found:  People 55 and older are the least enthusiastic and those 35-44 the most.

These views suggest that the principles of California's Song-Beverly Credit Card Act should be applied to mobile-payment processors, the paper says.  The law bars merchants from asking for personal information in credit-card transactions.

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