Are UK Smartphone Users Concerned About App Privacy?

Person using phone with overlaid graphic about interconnected web and different items like grocery shopping, laptop coming out of surrounding circle

According to estimates, in 2017 the UK is set to become one of the top five countries in terms of smartphone penetration, with 81% of UK cell phone owners having a smartphone. With such pervasive smartphone integration into everyday life, the issue of privacy and security of information collected or shared by apps has risen to the forefront for smartphone users and app creators. In recent years, attitudes have changed around what information is acceptable to share with apps as users recognize the trade-off between what information they share or store through the app and the usefulness of it. As a result, we wanted to learn how users in the UK feel about sharing the data that is collected, whether they understand how that data is used, and what factors affect willingness to share information.

The Research

This research sought to explore perceptions of data privacy and the acceptance of sharing personal information through an Exploratory Research Group™. Respondents were made up of smartphone owners in the UK who are open to using a variety of different apps. In order to inform companies how they should communicate about privacy and the structure of their apps to be used within the realm of comfort, we looked to the following objectives

  • Unaided, understand user’s awareness and perceptions of how app data is used by the app and third parties along with barriers and triggers to sharing data
  • Assess reaction to data sharing scenarios in the context of different apps (GPS based, social media, games, mobile banking/investing, etc.) to understand what tradeoffs consumers make and what data collected is acceptable and necessary for the app functionality versus what data collection seems unnecessary
  • Gauge perceptions of a hypothetical app and explore assurances users need to feel comfortable sharing information

The Results

Respondents are aware data is being collected, but aren’t sure of the specifics.

Most users recognize the fact that some of their information is being collected or shared based on the fact that they grant permissions or authorizations to the app upon download or use of a certain feature. However, they aren’t always aware of what information is being collected or why.

UK smartphone users are most comfortable sharing information that serves a clear purpose.

Communication from apps that clearly state why certain information is being collected is the ideal solution to assuaging concerns over app security and privacy. Policies or communications that are brief and easy to understand are most likely to resonate with app users.

To learn more about the specific content to include in privacy policies and other app security or data communications, download the full report below. You’ll also learn about

  • Sentiments around data security and privacy policy communications through video response
  • What apps are most important to UK smartphone users
  • The specific data being collected that respondents are aware of
    Information respondents are willing and not willing to share with apps
  • Specific security and privacy concerns by app type
  • How creators of apps can better message and communicate their policies around data sharing and security/privacy
Download Executive Summary