Consumers find mobile operators to be trustworthy with their data—report

A study by Openet says that consumers find mobile operators to be more trustworthy with their personal data. (Pixabay)

While the recent abuse of personal data by Facebook has eroded public trust in social media platforms, mobile operators are still in good standing, according to a study that was released today.

The study by Openet found that 53% of consumers were less likely to share personal data with digital services companies such as Facebook, Skype and Spotify. By contrast, 92% of the survey respondents said they would be open to using mobile operator-delivered digital services as long as the carriers were transparent about their data processes. 

Openet's report concluded that digital services companies had put "freemium" models at risk by being careless with consumers' personal data. On that note, 66% of the consumers in the survey said they would prefer to pay for services if it meant more control of their data.

“Until now, digital service companies like Netflix or Uber have been held up as the poster children for delivering personalized digital experiences and services. But it seems some have been a little too liberal in their use of consumer data, ruining the party for everyone," said Openet CEO Niall Norton in a prepared statement. "Since the Facebook data scandal, consumer attitudes towards digital service companies and personal data have eroded, with some consumers even deleting accounts in protest.

"In fact, many have expressed an interest in paying for services if it means that their data won’t be abused, signifying an end to the ‘freemium’ era. Consumers are clearly screaming out for something different, something trustworthy.”

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The survey, which was conducted last month by Sapio Research, found that consumer trust in digital service companies had eroded, with 76% saying they planned to increase their privacy settings, while 87% didn't think selling their data to third parties was an acceptable business practice. Among the survey's 1,500 respondents across the U.K., U.S., Brazil and the Philippines, 86% wanted more transparency around data use practices.

With other forms of revenue generation in place, namely monthly fees, mobile operators haven't relied on cashing in on their subscribers' personal data. But Niall cautioned that mobile operators needed to be transparent about their data collection efforts while also implementing opt-in processes.

"Mobile operators have traditionally had a much more conservative approach in their use of subscriber data, despite having an abundance of it," he said. "For a long time, this conservative approach to data use has been used as an unfavorable measure for operators’ digital efforts, especially in comparison to other digital-first companies. But times are changing and it’s clear that consumers expect more if they are to hand over personal data in exchange for services.

"Mobile operators have earned the right to answer this call. But to be successful, they must learn from the mistakes made by social media and digital service companies alike."

Openet provides software solutions and services to help service providers to create new revenues from digital services while also improving customer engagement.