Most Australian mobile apps sending data overseas: Deloitte

A new study by Deloitte Australia’s has confirmed what most consumers have probably already come to suspect about how their mobile phone impacts their privacy.

Deloitte Australia’s latest annual privacy index has revealed mobile applications offered by top brands market have become a major conduit for companies to access consumers’ personal information.

Most concerning, that the majority of the 88 apps Deloitte tested accessed this information and moved it offshore before consumers had a chance to alter its privacy settings.

Deloitte Australia client risk manager and co-author of the report, Marta Ganko, said that the consultancy’s “most surprising finding on behaviour was that after downloading the app and before even logging into most of the 88 apps accessed, the app was reading information from our device, of which 94 per cent was sent overseas. Depending on the app this data could include your contacts and/or your location however individuals were always informed in these cases”.

The report found that 81 per cent of the apps tested sent information overseas. Breaking that down further the US was the most popular destination for this information with 97 per cent of these apps transferring information there. A further 14 per cent sent information to Singapore, 6 per cent sent information to Ireland.

Germany and Hong Kong came in at equal fifth in the rankings with 4 per cent of tested devices sending data to destinations there.

Of the 88 apps 14 per cent accessed location data.

The findings were part of a larger study of privacy expectations among Australian consumers and how well top brands were meeting them.

Overall, Deloitte found that trust trumped convenience among 94 per cent of the 1000 consumers it surveyed. However, only 29 per cent reported having a privacy issue with a brand during the last 18 months with complaints more frequently levelled by older consumers than those in younger demographics.

Credit Card information was the top concern for consumers with 71 per cent of respondents concerned about its management followed by identification numbers (65 per cent) and medical records (34 per cent).

Banking and Finance, and government were the most trusted industry segments among consumers followed by Energy and Insurance. The Real Estate sector was the least trusted coming in last of the 13 industry segments.

Ms Ganko said prevailing attitudes among consumers toward privacy behoved large organisations to be more transparent about their data handling practices.

“Any organisation which shares data has become a data broker of some sort. As organisations collect and share more of their customers’ data with external parties, consumer confidence, trust, choice, as well as commercial interests, become important elements to balance in an increasingly digitally borderless world. This requires organisations to break down their own borders and operate transparently to continue building trust with consumers,” she said.

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