Survey: Many HK smartphone users lack privacy awareness

More than half of smartphone users in Hong Kong are unaware of the types of personal data accessed by apps they installed, said the Office of The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong Wednesday.

The OPCPD interviewed 1,013 smartphone users for a data privacy awareness survey. Among them, 838 interviewees used either an iPhone or an Android phone, according to the OPCPD, adding that the survey analysis was confined to users of these two platforms.

Survey results revealed more than 90% of users have installed apps but only 27% of them read and consider the apps privacy policy before installation, the OPCPD noted.

While 57% of apps users have no idea what personal data on their phones are accessed by apps installed, 51% of social apps users are unaware that their contacts and social relationship data will be uploaded to a central server, according to the findings.

In addition, only 53% of users take steps to guard their phones and personal data by tools such as screen lock and anti-virus software, said the OPCPD.

The youngest smartphone users aged 15 to 20--the most active users--are the least concerned about privacy and data protection, the organization added.

"The low privacy awareness among smartphone users as revealed in the present is worrying," said Allan Chiang, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. "Apps are often free or very cheap but the real currency could be the personal data users reveal."

The OPCPD on the same day issued a guidance leaflet titled 'Protect Privacy by Smart Use of Smartphones', aiming to help the public in using smartphones in a privacy-assuring manner.

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