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Consumers are worried about internet privacy but few do anything to protect themselves


SecurityHere’s a wild set of facts:

58% of respondents to an Associated Press poll said they were worried about government spying by the National Security Agency.

41% of consumers don’t know that smart devices collect information about their personal activities.

The truth is, it’s more likely that your new refrigerator is spying on you than the NSA.

Two companies published internet privacy surveys this week, TRUSTe Privacy Index and one by Consumer Reports, and between them an interesting picture emerged.

Though more than 80% of people said they were concerned about privacy on the internet and from smart devices 62% haven’t done anything about it.

The reason? Most say they simply don’t know how to protect themselves. That’s true. . .up to a point. How about this scenario. I can promise that your personal information will be kept 100% private – all you have to do is stop using a mobile phone.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

In the TRUSTe survey, only 22% said that the benefit of smart devices out-weighed the privacy concerns. Everyone else is kidding themselves. Can’t live without the GPS in my car! My fitness monitor is literally saving my life! Wireless at the coffee shop, couldn’t get my work done without it!

I’m not suggesting that we should all be cavalier about data handling. Marketers and business owners have a duty to protect their customers but this isn’t an internet thing. Back in the old charge plate machine days, there were tons off horror stories about waiters making a second receipt for themselves. And scam artists have been talking people out of their bank account numbers since bank accounts were invented.

The problem is that the internet makes it a) easier to misuse data and b) easier to hear about data that’s been misused. Combined, those two things make us feel like we’re constantly under attack.

To keep your customer’s trust, you need to do everything you can to protect them, not just on the backend but in public, too. It’s not enough to run the most secure servers in town, you have to regularly prove to your clients that their secrets are safe with you. Encourage them to change their passwords often (we hate doing it but. . . . ). Encourage them and make it easy for them to check and change their security settings.

Even if you never misuse data and have never had a data breach, it’s on you and your company to make your customers feel safe so they won’t hesitate to do business with you in the future.