Data privacy and control: Four trends shaping consumers desire for more

Published: October 7, 2021 by Linda Connor

By: Linda Connor, Vice President, Marketing, Experian

Over the years, I have increased the use of my mobile phone as my primary device for communication with family and friends, getting news, streaming entertainment, and making purchases. The convenience of doing it all at my fingertips has its appeal but comes with the threat of fraud. The fact is, an astounding volume of data is sent every day from mobile phones, digital carts, and social media sites to digital devices, wearable technology trackers, and work-from-home networks. Data shows most consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about what happens to the sensitive and identifying information they share.

data privacy stats

Like many consumers, I want more control over the information I share and need a better understanding of how companies use it. Here are four trends shaping consumers’ desire for more control of their data privacy.

  1. Big data breaches and whistleblowers are driving privacy awareness. 
    Consumer knowledge about data breaches is far from breaking news. Incidents like the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal that uncovered data harvesting of nearly 90 million users and Edward Snowden’s bombshell NSA phone record tracking discovery have made consumers more aware. Also, documentaries and TV series about data privacy and breaches have shed light on the dark side of data collection and our complicated relationship with technology. In 2020, Experian’s CyberAgent® monitoring found more than five billion exposed records. We have seen more growth in data breaches and expect this trend to continue and become more common.
  1. COVID-19 fraud and work-from-home culture are creating more cybercrime.
    The pandemic continues to change consumers’ lives on and offline. In 2020, we experienced an epic explosion of online traffic due to the unprecedented number of workers doing their jobs remotely. The unanticipated shift in the labor market paved the way for a target-rich environment for fraudsters, resulting in a 400% increase in cybercrime, ~3000% increase in government-related fraud reports, and over 36 billion records exposed in data breaches in the first half of the year.1-3
  1. Big media companies are reacting to consumer demand.
    Consumers are paying attention to what brands are doing with the information they share, prompting businesses to take action. Big companies like Apple added Mail Privacy to its iOS 15 operating system, and Google removed third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. Only 3.4% of adult Facebook users say they trust the company with their data, prompting the social network to offer privacy tools like two-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, and features that give consumers more control, like downloads of collected information.4
  1. New privacy tools and regulations are on the rise.
    The digital age has created a growing industry dedicated to delivering tools to help consumers take more control over their data and protect their privacy. The virtual private network (VPN) market is expected to grow to a $35 billion industry by 2022. The rise in remote work is also triggering VPN growth, with one-quarter of all internet users accessing a VPN network in the last month alone. Beyond VPN and Password Managers, which are also seeing an uptick with 300 billion passwords reported being in use as of 2020, regulatory bodies, including GDPR and CCPA, are also prioritizing consumers’ rights to information and privacy5-7.

As a consumer, I want to do business with companies that will work hard to protect my identity and be transparent about what it does with my personal information. The four trends highlighted here are driving consumer demand for data privacy and control, and companies who deliver will win consumers’ trust and wallets.

Experian Partner Solutions delivers powerful products to meet the needs of today’s changing digital landscape, our partners, and their consumers, with credit education and identity protection. To learn more, click here.


1 Monstercloud, Aug 2020

2 2020 Consumer Sentinel Network Databook, FTC

3 Infosecurity Group, Oct 2020

4 The eMarketer Facebook Flash Survey

5Go Globe

6The Best VPN

7Cybersecurity Ventures

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