Privacy Concerns Rise as Businesses Report Increased Personal Data Collection: KPMG

Data collection is rising, with 70% of the business leaders surveyed reporting that their companies have increased collection of consumer personal data over the last year.

A new KPMG survey reveals a deep disconnect between corporate data practices and the general population’s expectations around transparency and data privacy. As companies collect more personal data, survey respondents are increasingly concerned about how their data is being used and report concerns about the level of data collection.

KPMG’s survey confirms that data collection is rising, with 70% of the business leaders surveyed reporting that their companies have increased collection of consumer personal data over the last year. At the same time, survey respondents characterized as the general population report feeling increasingly uneasy about these practices, with 86% of respondents saying data privacy is a growing concern for them and about two-thirds (68%) saying that the level of data collection by companies is concerning.

“This split between business and consumer sentiment isn’t new, but its persistence shows that businesses have a long way to go to make the public more comfortable with how they are collecting, using and safeguarding data,” says Orson Lucas, KPMG U.S. Privacy Services leader. “Failure to bridge this divide could present a real risk of losing access to the valuable data and insights that drive business growth.”

The findings in the “Corporate Data Responsibility: Bridging the Trust Chasm report are based on the results of two surveys. General population and U.S.-based workers: an online survey among a nationally representative audience of 2,000 U.S. adults, fielded from April 30 to May 6, 2021. Business leaders: an online survey among 250 director-level (or higher) decision-makers with involvement in security/privacy/data decisions at companies with 1,000+ employees from April 30 to May 12, 2021.

Respondents Wary of How Businesses Use Their Data

General population respondents are worried about how their data is being used by organizations, and many of these concerns are grounded in a fundamental lack of trust. The survey found that:

  • 83% would not willingly share their data to help businesses make better products and services
  • 64% say companies are not doing enough to protect consumer data
  • 47% believe their smart devices are listening to their conversations
  • 40% say they don’t trust companies to use their personal data ethically
  • 13% don’t trust their own employer to use their personal data ethically

Many business leaders acknowledge there is a reason for concern. Speaking about their own employer, 33% of business leaders say consumers should be concerned about how their personal data is used by their company, and 29% acknowledge that their company sometimes uses unethical data collection methods.

“People tend to underreport behaviors that place them or their organization in a negative light,” says Lucas. “Having more than one in four reports that their business sometimes uses unethical data collection methods is troubling and helps explain why consumers are wary.”

Businesses Can Help Bridge the Trust Chasm

To bridge this gap, enterprises must prioritize data protection and take meaningful action to build consumer trust. Approximately 62% of business leaders say their companies should be doing more to strengthen existing data protection measures. The vast majority of the general population respondents (88%) also say they want corporations to take the lead in establishing corporate data responsibility.

Businesses should consider ways to be more explicit and transparent about how consumer data will be used. Most general population respondents (76%) say they want more transparency about how their personal data is being used by companies, and 40% say they would willingly share their personal data if they knew exactly who would use it and how it would be used. Right now, only 53% of business leaders say their company shows how such data will be used.

“Businesses should consider how leveraging data discovery and governance tools, as well as exploring the implications of new use cases powered by emerging tech like machine learning and AI, can enhance data protection and build consumer trust,” says Martin Sokalski, KPMG U.S. Emerging Technology, and Digital Solutions leader. “These technologies can help organizations build greater visibility into their data practices, from better data tracking to helping ensure integrity and fairness throughout the life cycle.”


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Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist and editor based in Mumbai. He is the Founding Editor of Digital Creed, which he founded in 2015. A technology buff, former computer instructor, and software developer, Brian has 28 years of journalism experience (since 1994). He is sound and confident about his knowledge of business technology concepts. And he is a believer in continual education/learning. Brian is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines (India). He has written hundreds of technology articles for India's leading newspaper groups such as The Times of India and Indian Express Newspapers (among others). And he has conducted more than 300 industry interviews during his journalism career. Brian also writes on Aviation, cybersecurity, startups, and topics directed at small and medium businesses. He achieved certifications from the EC-Council (Certified Secure Computer User) and from IBM (Basics of Cloud Computing). Apart from those, he has successfully completed many courses on Content Marketing and Business Writing. Follow Brian on Twitter (@creed_digital) and LinkedIn. Email Brian at: [email protected]

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