Recent findings by OpenText highlight a notable trend among Australian consumers, with nearly half (44%) indicating they would pay more to engage with companies that prioritize the protection of their personal data. This percentage surpasses the global average of 40%.

The study, involving 1,000 Australian participants, unveils a significant level of public skepticism and concern regarding how personal information is managed by organizations. A mere 7% of Australians trust that their data is handled securely and privately by these entities.

This distrust persists even though data privacy standards have tightened globally, spurred by regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced in 2018. Under GDPR, severe breaches can lead to fines as steep as €20 million or 4% of a company’s annual global turnover, whichever amount is greater.

Understanding Data Privacy Challenges

The survey reveals that a vast majority (80%) of Australians are unaware of the extent to which their personal data, such as email addresses, phone numbers, and banking details, is accessible to various organizations. However, about 70% of Australians are aware, to some degree, of the laws protecting their personal data, a figure slightly lower than the global average of 73%.

Around 30% of Australians expressed willingness to proactively contact organizations to inquire about the use and compliance of their data storage practices. Additionally, 14% have already done so at least once.

Lou Blatt, Senior Vice President and CMO at OpenText, remarks on the digital shift accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, which has intensified the volume of data needing secure management and elevated consumer expectations around data privacy.

The Role of Individuals and Organizations in Data Privacy

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of Australian consumers feel capable of managing their data privacy across various digital platforms through settings such as privacy adjustments and geolocation disabling. Nonetheless, 20% believe that the responsibility for data privacy and security on these platforms rests with the respective companies.

Only 9% of Australians believe that all businesses currently meet their legal obligations for data privacy—a sentiment less optimistic than that seen in European countries like Spain, Germany, and France. Conversely, 23% of Australians think achieving comprehensive compliance may either be a remote possibility or unattainable.

Albert Nel, Vice President Asia Pacific at OpenText, emphasizes the importance of adopting technology that not only enhances visibility over data management but also supports quick responses to consumer inquiries about their data. By integrating privacy management solutions that uphold privacy and data protection laws, organizations can minimize compliance risks, avoid reputational damage, and maintain consumer trust.

Research Methodology

The data stems from a broader survey conducted via Google Surveys between April and May 2020, commissioned by OpenText. It involved anonymous responses from 12,000 global consumers across multiple countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, Australia, and Singapore, aiming to capture consumer attitudes towards data privacy amid the pandemic.