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Many People Feel They Lack Control Over Their Personal Data

With data breaches a constant worry, many consumers don’t feel too confident in being able to control how their personal data gets used.

According to a July 2018 survey by Mobile Ecosystem Forum of 6,500 smartphone users worldwide ages 16 and older, just 27% of respondents felt they had some control over how their personal data is used by mobile apps and services. Another 36% of respondents felt they didn’t have a choice in how apps could use their data.

A May 2018 poll of 1,000 US adults by ExpressVPN also found that consumers are skeptical when it comes to data privacy. In that study, 71% of respondents said they were concerned about how marketers collect and utilize their personal data.

Consumer advocates believe that data privacy laws should be overhauled. In an April 2018 poll of US internet users by Janrain, 68% of US internet users said they would support rules like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the US. The GDPR is an EU law which stipulates that a user's data can only be used if they give a company their explicit permission.

To put these data points in perspective, it is worth recognizing that those who agree to fill out surveys about personal data usage are self-selected and likely care more about this topic than the average person. Another caveat is that consumers’ actions don’t always reflect the concerns that consumer groups profess to care about. For instance, the #DeleteFacebook movement gained traction after Facebook had several scandals. However, most people aren’t deleting Facebook. eMarketer forecasts that the number of people who use Facebook per month in the US will grow from 166.2 million people in 2016 to 169.5 million people in 2018.

Nonetheless, the research from Mobile Ecosystem Forum, ExpressVPN and Janrain, indicates that many internet users are fed up with how their data is being utilized online.