WIN International, the world’s leading association in market research and polling has published the Annual WIN World Survey (WWS – 2021) exploring the views and beliefs of 33,236 individuals among citizens from 39 countries across the globe about technology, privacy of digital information and related concerns.

Sharing personal information digitally

Almost half of the global population (48%) is concerned about sharing personal information digitally, a percentage that increased by three points compared to last year (45%). The level of concern increases among men and women as well: women, from 47% to 50% and men, from 43% to 47%. The increased frequency of online purchases and bank transactions in times of pandemic may have played a role in this scenario: providing private data, without a good virtual security system, can lead to theft or manipulation of personal data for illicit acts.

More than half of the American continent (54%) feels concerned about sharing their information digitally, a stable result compared to last year. Africa and MENA are regions that experienced the bigger increase compared to last year’s results, raising the level of concern of 22 and 15 percentage points respectively.

On a country by country level, Brazil (72%), China (71%) and Turkey (61%) are the countries that are most concerned about sharing their information digitally. While Lebanon (31%), the Palestinian Territories (30%) and Germany (29%) seem to worry less. Results by country should also be interpreted together with the national context: for example, the local discussions in China regarding the Personal Information Protection Law have played an important role in shaping people’s opinion on the topic.

Awareness on what will happen with personal information after it is shared with a data collector

The rising level of concern about sharing personal information online goes hand in hand with an increased awareness about what happens to our data once is shared.

One third of the global population (33%) say they know what happens with their data, +6% compared to 2020. Although the share increased, there is still a significant majority that ignores the future usage of their personal data.

China (71%), India (51%) and Brazil (49%) have the highest percentages of awareness of the usage of shared personal data, while Japan (16%), Finland and South Korea (each with 9%) show the lowest results.

Technology in our life

More than three quarters of the global population (76%) consider that technology is very important in our lives, especially younger generations (82% among 18-24 and 25-34), students (87%) and those with a higher educational level (masters and PhDs). The pandemic might have had an effect on these results too: in the toughest months, technology was our way to look at the external world, and for students and young people probably even more.

Technology for people in Africa seems to be fundamental, with 90% of the population considering it extremely or very important. Many countries follow the same trend: Indonesia (98%), Serbia (95%) and India (94%) perceive technology as an essential element in their daily lives, while Ecuador (61%), Poland (60%) and France (50%) consider it important, but not vital.

Data misuse

According to the results, 7 out of 10 respondents were victims of data misuse (Spamming or/and phishing). Aggressive misuses like personal data leak, email hacked and financial hack were luckily experienced by fewer people (12%, 11% and 11%, respectively); still 34% experimented at least one of the above (compared to 29% in 2019). People from United States (71%), Hong Kong (64%) and Mexico (63%) seem to have had privacy issues more than people in other countries.

Vilma Scarpino, President of WIN International Association, said:

The impact of the technology in our life has been growing since many years now, but it’s also changing our habits and our perception of the consequences of its misuse. Despite more people are aware of the destination of the personal information they share online, the level of concern does not decrease accordingly: knowing what happens with our data, doesn’t mean we’re not skeptical or worried about it. On top of that, there are still many people ignoring the consequences of online behavior: knowledge still needs to increase in order to have fully aware customers and consumers, and it really needs to increase, considering more than three out of four people consider technology an important part of their life.

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