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Privacy Week 2024: New Survey Reveals New Zealanders’ Privacy Concerns

A biennial privacy survey of New Zealanders was released today to mark the start of Privacy Week 2024.

The number and size of privacy breaches, combined with the increasing reach of technology into people’s daily lives, are two reasons people are more concerned now about privacy issues.

Privacy Commissioner Michael Webster says, "These results paint a picture of the current state of privacy in New Zealand and shows to me that Kiwis aren’t as complacent as our well-advertised ‘she’ll be right’ attitude might indicate."

The percentage of people who said they are "more concerned" about privacy issues over the last few years has increased to 55%, which is a 14% increase from two years ago.

New Zealanders are clear in their response to these concerns:

- 80% want more control and choice over the collection and use of their personal information.

- 63% said protecting their personal information is a major concern in their lives

- 83% want to know when their personal information is used in automated decision-making

- 82% want the right to ask a business to delete their personal information.

"These increases line up with what we also heard from Kiwis about specific privacy issues, with the highest levels of concern among survey respondents being organisations sharing data, the use of AI in decision-making, and cyber-attacks."

There are high levels of concern about key privacy issues with around two thirds of New Zealanders concerned about:

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- businesses or government organisations sharing their personal information without telling them (67%)

- the public and private sectors using artificial intelligence to make decisions about them, using their personal information (66%)

- organisations losing their personal information in a cyber-attack (65%).

Around two thirds of survey respondents (64%) also said they were very concerned about not being told about or agreeing to the use of Facial Recognition Technology.

"Increasing public awareness about the use of Facial Recognition Technology and some of the issues being expressed about it seem to be a having an impact, as people become aware that this is happening and start asking, "is this the society I really want to live in?""

Privacy concerns drive behaviour. Our survey asked whether in the last 12 months the recipients had avoided doing specific activities because of privacy concerns. The results were eye opening, with the top avoided activities being, social media 33%, online browsing 28%, online shopping 28% and online dating 28%.

People are not just aware but they’re also acting. In our survey, 70% declared that they were likely to consider changing service providers in response to poor privacy and security practices.

"Our survey also showed Māori are more concerned about privacy in every way. A standout example of the privacy concerns expressed by Māori is that 32% stated that in the past 12 months they have avoided contacting a government department due to privacy concerns. For non-Māori that figure is 14%."

"It’s fitting these results come out in Privacy Week as it shows that people value privacy and are increasingly willing to speak up about things they think are going to have a detrimental impact on their personal privacy," says Mr Webster.

The survey had nearly 1200 participants.

Privacy Week runs from 13-17 May and we’re running a series of free online talks and conversations covering a range of topics. Find one that suits you at www.privacy.org.nz

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