Public Happy To Share Location Data But Demand Tougher Regulation

The majority of people are happy to share location based data with third parties but far better regulation is required to ensure such data is used responsibly.

Results from an independent consumer survey conducted on behalf of mobile engagement solutions provider, Brainstorm, and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) found that 74 percent of us are happy to share our location based data with third parties. However, 72 percent feel companies are not doing enough to ensure the responsible use of location data and that further regulation is needed to ensure its responsible usage.

Tangible social benefit

The apparently contradictory findings were revealed in a survey conducted by Lightspeed GMI among 1,000 mobile phone users, which sought to examine the public’s attitudes towards the use of location based services. While, in general, consumers are willing to share their location data, they are seeking reassurances that they won’t be bombarded by adverts, or that there is a tangible social benefit like fighting crime or improvements in health care, or that there is a personal enticement such as a money-off voucher.

Donald Stuart, CEO of Brainstorm comments: “While the survey shows that the vast majority of us clearly appreciate the personal and social benefits of sharing our location data, it’s not surprising in this post-Snowden era, that there is a demand for further reassurances and transparency surrounding the privacy of location based data.”

For those willing to allow location data to be collected, certain other reassurances are also important; 32 percent want their details to remain anonymous, while 27 percent want transparency into the proposed usage of the data and 25 percent insist on actively opting in. There was also mixed feelings regarding who they most trust with their location information: whilst most (43 percent) discern no difference, app providers were least likely to be trusted with the information, whilst government bodies and mobile/broadband operators were more trusted.

When quizzed about what concerns people had about sharing their location data; both security (34 percent) and privacy (34 percent) were equal causes for concern followed by a worry that information could be shared with third parties without their explicit permission (21 percent), while spam and unwanted adverts were a minor issue (9 percent).

Stuart added: “There’s little doubt that in our data-centric world the use of location based data, in conjunction with other intelligence, can improve our lives in innumerable ways beyond traditional marketing promotions, including areas such as: logistics, transportation, disaster warning and healthcare.

“Businesses and governments should be encouraged by the fact that the public largely embraces the use of this data and they must continue to find ways to prove its value to their customers and citizens, and reassure them of their appropriate stewardship of their data.”

Chris Babayode, managing director of the MMA in EMEA added: “Technology in mobile marketing has moved on at such a fast pace that smart businesses are recognising the competitive advantage they can create in using location based data to enhance their customers journey and engagement levels with their products and services. This can happen in a variety of innovative ways through mobile to – both literally and metaphorically – understand their consumers’ behaviour and place it at the centre of what they are offering.”

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Duncan Macrae

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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