US: Consumers happier to give over their data for crime-fighting than medical research, new insights show
January 9th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

US: Consumers happier to give over their data for crime-fighting than medical research, new insights show

From technology to advertising, consumer data powers innovation and can be a treasure trove for many businesses, but over the last several years there’s been a strong focus on protecting consumer information.

The intersection of innovation and consumer privacy will be one of the key conference programs at CES this year. The annual tech event organized by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) will be a showcase for breakthrough technologies and a place to learn about the biggest trends impacting our lives.

To get a pulse on the topic of privacy in the eyes of consumers, YouGov polled more than 1,000 US adults on acceptable applications of their data by governments, private tech companies and health tech companies.

Among the potential ways their data could be used, there’s consensus when it comes to the government using people’s data to assess potential terrorist threats or crimes. Roughly half (53%) of US adults say this is an acceptable use of data collected from consumers while a quarter (25%) disapprove.

People tend to be divided on other applications of their data and even unwilling to accept their data being used by tech companies in certain ways.

Consumers have mixed opinions when it comes to health tech companies sharing their user data with medical researchers to understand illnesses and diseases. More than two in five find this an acceptable use of their data (43%) but 36% think it’s unacceptable. Roughly a fifth (21%) are not sure if this is an acceptable use of their data.

When it comes to using consumer data to help with investigations, 40% of US adults say it’s an acceptable practice for DNA testing companies to share consumers’ genetic information with law enforcement for this purpose. A near equal share say this is an unacceptable practice (39%).

Similarly, the waters are muddy when it comes to tech companies sharing users’ calls or audio recordings with law enforcement to solve crimes. Over a third (36%) think it’s acceptable for tech companies to do so while 41% think it’s not acceptable.

We also asked about social media platforms monitoring user activity for signs of mental illness to minimize the risk of self-harm and connect people with professional help. Just a third (32%) of US adults thought this was acceptable while a greater share found it unacceptable (42%).

Consumers tend to be the most skeptical about their data being used for advertising and personalizing content. More than half (55%) think it's not acceptable to use their data in this way while 24% say it is an acceptable practice.

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Photo by Joshua Mayo on Unsplash