Most Australian consumers have little idea about how many organisations have access to their personal information and few trust businesses’ ability to protect it, according to a global survey.

But a significant amount report a willingness to pay more for better data protection.

OpenText, an enterprise software company surveyed 12,000 consumers around the world, including 1,000 Australians. It found 44 per cent of local consumers would pay more to do business with an organisation that is committed to protecting their personal data, compared to 40 per cent of consumers globally. 

Only 9 per cent of Australian consumers believe every business is meeting its legal obligations to keep customer data private, less than the surveyed consumers from Europe, where more strict data protections are in place.

Australia’s privacy laws are principles based, rarely enforced by courts, and often criticised for being unfit for the rampant data collection of a digital age. Most of the Australians surveyed by OpenText reported they are aware of the local laws to protect their data (70 per cent).

80 per cent said they are not aware of how many organisations use, store or have access to their personal data, including their contact and bank details.

Australia’s privacy regulator is currently pursuing Facebook in court for alleged massive data breaches and a failure to protect users’ privacy in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The federal government has also committed to reviewing the Australian Privacy Act following a landmark investigation into digital platforms.

Reforms would be an opportunity to bring the laws more in line with Europe’s strict data processing rules, known as General Data Protection Regulation, which carry heavy fines for breaches.

“Beyond potential fines, any organisation that fails to comply with data privacy laws risks losing the trust of their customers,” said Albert Nel, Vice President Asia Pacific, OpenText. 

“Leaders must leverage technology that not only provides visibility into how they capture and secure data, but also allows them to respond rapidly to customers’ requests on how their personal data is being processed, collected, and used.”

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