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Enterprises Need to Do More to Assure Consumers About Privacy

Organizations care about data privacy, but their priorities appear to be different from what their customers think are important.

Edge Editors, Dark Reading

January 27, 2023

2 Min Read
Two bar graphs showing what consumers and organizations are important to gain trust in how data is being used.
Source: Cisco 2023 Data Privacy Benchmark Study

Privacy is critical for business, according to 95% of security professionals surveyed in the sixth edition of Cisco's "Data Privacy Benchmark Study." The survey of more than 4,700 security professionals from 26 geographies included more than 3,100 respondents who are familiar with their organizations' data privacy programs.

According to the research, 94% of respondents say customers would not buy from them if they thought the data was not properly protected. Another interesting point: Ninety-six percent say they have an ethical obligation to treat data properly.

However, a disconnect exists between what consumers say is necessary to gain their trust on how their information is used and what organizations think they need to do to gain that trust. Consumers say transparency is the top priority to gain their trust (39%), followed by not selling personal information (21%), and compliance with privacy laws (20%). Among organizations, the priority order varied. From the business perspective, compliance with existing regulations (30%) was the No. 1 priority for building customer trust, followed by transparency about how the data is being used (26%) and not selling personal information (21%).

"Certainly organizations need to comply with privacy laws," Cisco states in the report. "But when it comes to earning and building trust, compliance is not enough. Consumers consider legal compliance to be a 'given,' with transparency more of a differentiator."

This disconnect is also present in regard to data and artificial intelligence (AI). While consumers are "generally supportive" of AI, automated decision-making is still an area of concern, according to the report. Nearly three-quarter of surveyed consumers (76%) say providing opportunities for them to opt out of AI-based applications would help make them "much more" or "more" comfortable with AI. Consumers would also like to see organizations institute an AI ethics management program (75%), explain how the application is making decisions (74%), and involve a human in the decision-making process (75%), according to the survey findings.

Organizations, in contrast, are not prioritizing opt-outs, with just 21% saying they give customers the opportunity to opt out of AI use and 22% thinking it would be an effective step to take. The top priority for organizations is to ensure a human is involved in the decision-making (63%) and to explain how the application works (60%). Over half of the organizations consider explaining how the application works (58%), ensuring human involvement in decision-making (55%), and adopting AI ethics principles as an effective way to gain customer trust.

The majority of respondents (92%) say they believe their organization needs to do more to reassure customers about the ways their data would be used with AI. Letting the user opt-out would be a highly effective way.

About the Author(s)

Edge Editors

Dark Reading

The Edge is Dark Reading's home for features, threat data and in-depth perspectives on cybersecurity.

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