85% of Australians are Concerned about Data Privacy


The majority of Australians are concerned about data privacy, with 50% stating companies are requesting too much personal information, according to new research by Toluna.

The research, which surveyed 1063 Australians between 9-11 August 2021, showed varying levels of trust between companies, but that Australians are willing to give up some of their personal information in exchange for loyalty rewards, for entertainment purposes, or even to receive targeted advertising.


The findings revealed a high level of awareness about data collection, with 85% of Australians aware that companies like Facebook, Google, and media publishers are collecting and using their personal data. However, the same percentage (85%) said they were concerned about the information collected by these companies; with half (50%) saying companies are requesting too much personal data for their liking.

The biggest concern for consumers around data privacy is the possibility of the data being hacked and their personal information stolen (76%), closely followed by the concern that their data will be shared or sold to other companies (58%).


When it came to the types of information consumers are willing to share with brands, almost half (49%) are happy to share their entertainment choices, such as movies watched or games played; forty-seven percent are also willing to share their lifestyle information such as hobbies and interests.

Over a third (40%) were happy to share their demographic information with brands, such as age, gender, and income. But only around a third said they’d be willing to share purchase history (33%) or online browsing behaviour (29%), with few willing to share real-time location information, such as GPS data or browser IP (18%).


When it comes to social media platforms and messaging services, TikTok was ranked as the most untrustworthy platform, with 62% of respondents stating they don’t trust TikTok with their personal data, closely followed by Snapchat (53%), Houseparty (52%) and Twitter (51%).

Just under half (48%) said they didn’t trust Facebook or Instagram with their data (vs. 27% and 23% respectively who did trust these platforms). There was also a lot of distrust for Reddit (48%) and WhatsApp (44%), with slightly less for Pinterest (40%) and LinkedIn (38%).

YouTube came up as the most trustworthy social media platform, and the only one that had more respondents stating they trust the company with their data (35%) than not (33%).


Considering the trustworthiness of other organisations, 40% of respondents said they didn’t trust businesses with their personal data, with 35% having the same distrust in brands.

Conversely, a third (36%) of respondents said they do trust retailers with their personal data (vs. only 26% who didn’t), and around the same number (35%) said they trust their data in the hands of airlines. Almost half (44%) also said they trusted the Government to look after their data, with only 29% who didn’t.

Interestingly, thoughts on charities were split, with an even 32% of respondents stating they didn’t trust charities with their data, and another 32% who did (the remaining 36% were on the fence). But NGOs were judged untrustworthy for correct data storage by 42% of respondents, versus only 19% who thought they could trust them.


Feelings were split when it came to targeted advertising, with 40% of respondents stating they were unwilling to receive targeted ads based on their browsing history versus 37% who were ok with targeted ads. Twenty-three percent didn’t mind one way or the other.

Of those willing to receive targeted ads, it was because they wanted ads which were relevant to them (65%) and they wanted a personalised experience (37%). These respondents also said they would be willing to receive targeted advertising from companies who react quickly to hacks (31%), who were considered trustworthy by friends and family (31%), and who publicised how they use consumer data (29%).

For those unwilling to receive targeted advertising, the majority simply thought targeted advertising was irrelevant to them (62%). They were also put off if companies didn’t share their approach to protecting data (32%), if they didn’t publicise the reason they collect data (36%), or if they didn’t react quickly to hacks (25%).


The vast majority of respondents (81%) were a member of a loyalty program (such as FlyBuys, Woolworths Rewards, Qantas, MyDanMurphy’s, etc.), with the majority of those (77%) stating they receive benefits from these programs. A quarter (23%) said they receive little to no benefit from being a member of a loyalty program.

Interestingly, respondents thought it was worth sharing their personal data with loyalty programs, with 61% of respondents stating they get at least some value and recognition for sharing things like personal data and shopping habits.

In terms of benefits, most members (51%) would prefer cash rewards as an incentive, followed by points to collect and redeem for products or services later (38%). Only 12% of respondents said they’d prefer exclusive discounts or offers as a reward.

While a significant number of loyalty members don’t shop around for competing programs (49%), some respondents shopped around a couple of times a year (11%) to see if there were better alternatives on the market; some even look at competing rewards programs as often as every month (14%) or every week (17%).


With privacy concerns high, some Australians are taking matters into their own hands and proactively taking measures to protect their personal data while online. Around a third (33%) said they pay close attention to privacy agreements and half (50%) use different passwords across all online sites. Around one in three disable location-based services on their devices (35%) and disable cookies in their browser (32%). Using a private browsing window (26%), browser add-ons like Ghostery or Ad Blockers (24%), or a VPN to connect to the internet (22%) are other ways Australians protect their privacy online. One in six Australians (17%) set up and use dummy emails for things like promotions, deals, loyalty programs, and social media.

Sej Patel, Country Director, Toluna, Australia & New Zealand said that businesses need to ensure consumers are adequately rewarded for their data. “Understanding your customers is a core component of business, but as consumers become savvier about data collection, transparency is key. Businesses need to clearly state the reasons they’re collecting customer information and provide adequate incentives in order to continue to build trust. These findings show us that when consumers feel as though they’ve been rewarded for sharing their data–whether that be tailored streaming suggestions or loyalty rewards–that they’re much happier to share this information. Further, the levels of trust found amongst airlines and retailers, who are generally leaders in rewarding customers for sharing data, are viewed as more trustworthy organisations. Businesses across all industries would do well to see how they can reward customers for sharing their data, while also taking all necessary steps to keep it safe.”