Ketchum 2019 Social Permission and Technology Study

Data privacy and security are key drivers of brand reputation, according to a new study from Ketchum.

The 2019 Social Permission and Technology study finds that 55 percent of respondents are more concerned over data breaches than they were 12 months ago.

In addition, nearly half of respondents don’t trust companies to keep consumer data safe, with 48 percent saying they don’t believe it when companies say their data is protected, and 49 percent not trusting a company’s declaration that data breach issues have been resolved.

There was a strong sentiment that brands whose business models depend on consumer data need to step up when it comes to protecting consumer data. Nearly nine in 10 consumers (89 percent) of respondents said that there needs to be more legislation around data privacy, and that companies should be fined for data breaches. A majority (59 percent) also thought that large tech companies should be broken up.

But most respondents doubted that companies are improving with regard to data privacy and security. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) said companies either haven’t improved at protecting customer data or have gotten worse. A quarter of respondents (25 percent) said they don’t trust any industry with their personal data.

Brands that have historically had access to sensitive personal data seem to do a bit better on the trustworthiness scale with consumers. One-third of survey respondents (33 percent) said they trust healthcare providers more than any other type of company with their personal information, with banks (32 percent) close behind.

Big tech companies and startups tend to do less well, with just seven percent saying they are most trusting of social media apps, and six percent expressing trust in wellness, fitness and smart home apps and devices. Telecom companies and app-based transportation providers scored the lowest, at three percent.

The study also found that “techruptors”— young digital natives who both understand technology and use more tech products and services than the general population—are about as skeptical about data security as the general population.

Compared to a year ago, half of techruptors feel worse about data privacy (50 percent), data breaches (50 percent) and location tracking without their knowledge (49 percent).

A sizeable group of survey respondents (41 percent) says that current laws are not capable of keeping up with technological advancements, and that consumers must take responsibility themselves. Sixty percent said they have deleted an app from their phone in the last twelve months, 40 percent have turned off location tracking, and 34 percent report using social media accounts less frequently.

The Social Permission and Technology Study surveyed 1,022 U.S. adults age 18+ between Aug. 20 and 23.