Study Shows Americans Expect Mobile Phone Data Privacy

By Dieter Bohn, The Verge


A study of 1,200 households from the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology reveals that the majority of Americans believe they should have a high level of privacy when it comes to the data on their mobile phones, as Ars Technica points out. American's expect more privacy, in fact, than they likely have. 46 percent, for example, believe that carriers should not store location information for any length of time at all, while 59 percent believe data on a phone is "about as private" as data on a personal computer — which isn't necessarily the case depending on how a phone is loaded up.

There's also a possible disconnect when it comes to providing contact list information to an app: 81 percent "probably" or "definitely" would not allow a social networking app to access a contact list in order to suggest friends. We suspect that the number of smartphone users who actually do allow such access is probably larger than the 18 percent who said they would likely allow it. The researchers are not optimistic that the dissonance between what companies want to collect and what consumers want collected will be resolved easily:

The gulf between private sector information demands and consumer preferences suggest that better disclosures and choice mechanisms alone will simply preserve the status quo. More aggressive interventions are necessary to create incentives for firms to reduce collection of personal information.

The rest of the survey includes data on phone usage — just over half of the respondents use their phone for email and visiting the web, while 75 percent are taking photos. Fifty percent smartphone penetration, another result, sounds about right — but expect that number to get bigger and quickly.