Mobile Owners Seen Reluctant to Share Data

July 16, 2012

ucberkeley-data-sharing-via-apps-july2012.pngWhile 82% of mobile owners store contact information on their devices, 81% of device owners would probably (30%) or definitely (51%) not allow social networking applications to mine those contacts for friend suggestions, and 93% would probably (18%) or definitely (75%) not allow a coupons app to mine the list in order to offer coupons to their contacts, per findings [download page] from a University of California-Berkeley study released in July 2012. This reticence finds its way into other data sharing activities, also. For example, 46% believe that cell phone providers should not keep subscriber location information, and 92% would either probably (22%) or definitely (70%) not allow their cell phone provider to use their location to tailor ads to them.

Privacy and security concerns appear to be hindering mobile shopping, too: according to November 2011 research from Motricity, security rates as the top deterrent to mobile shopping among smartphone and tablet owners.

Mobile Owners Store Variety of Info on Devices

Data from the UC-Berkeley study indicates that mobile phone users store large amounts of data on their phones that they consider private, including contact information (82% of users), text messages (78%), photos and videos (75%), and voicemail messages (74%). Nearly half store emails (48%), with other data such as information about websites the user visited (37%), and passwords for websites and apps (27%) less likely to be stored.

9 in 10 Unwilling To Lend Mobile To Strangers

Further data from the “Mobile Phones and Privacy” study reveals that 9 in 10 respondents would definitely not allow a stranger to borrow their mobile phone, and just 51% reported they definitely would allow a spouse or other close family member to borrow their phones. Roughly one-third would probably allow spouses or family members to use the device, but 9% would not allow it at all. Only 6% of mobile owners would lend a phone to a work colleague, while 56% would not lend it at all.

Their main concerns when asked about their lending practices are: privacy (17%); the phone having a lot of information on it (12%); and the borrower potentially damaging, losing, or stealing the phone (10%). But most responses had some element of trust to them: 10% said they never know what the borrower will do with it; 8% cited trust issues; and 7% responded “it’s mine/my phone/personal.” 4% are actively “worried [the] borrower would read emails or texts or look at pictures or contacts.”

Other Findings:

  • While telemarketing to mobile phones has been illegal since 1991, companies may call consumers with whom they have established business relationships. 24% of mobile phone owners believe a store should be able to call them on mobile phones, but 74% believe stores should not call them on mobiles.
  • 46% of mobile-owning respondents reported using location services like GPS and mapping services via their phones, yet just 24% choose to store information about present or past locations.
  • The ratio of cellular phone to smartphone peaks in the 25-34 age group with 78% being smartphones; and is second highest in the 18-24 age group, with 66% being smartphones.
  • 78% of mobile owners said that mobile phone data is about as private (58%) or more private (19%) as data on their home computer. 18-24 year olds are the most likely to see mobile phone data as more private than data stored on a home computer (30%), likely due to their higher use of mobile phone features and functions.

About The Data: The Berkeley Consumer Privacy Survey obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,203 adult internet users living in the continental United States. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (678) and cell phone (525, including 235 without a landline phone). Overall,6,906 working landlines and 8,688 working cell phones were dialed. The response rate for the landline samples was 16%. The response rate for the cellular samples was 14%. Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI), and was fully funded by Nokia, Inc. as part of an unrestricted gift to the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

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