ACAPS 2023 privacy survey

Privacy concerns are escalating among Australians, with data breaches taking centre stage as the most significant privacy risk, according to the 2023 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS).

The survey, conducted by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), offers profound insights into the evolving landscape of privacy attitudes, reflecting the impact of recent developments in technology and data practices.


Scope and significance of the survey

The ACAPS 2023 survey touched upon a wide range of topics, including data practices, privacy legislation, biometrics, artificial intelligence, and children’s privacy. Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk, expressed the survey’s significance, stating, “Our survey shows privacy is a significant concern for Australians, especially in areas that have seen recent developments like artificial intelligence and biometrics.”


Data breaches dominate privacy concerns

Data breaches have emerged as the most critical privacy issue in the eyes of Australians, reflecting a considerable shift in privacy priorities. The survey reveals that almost half of the respondents admitted to being directly affected by a data breach within the preceding year.


Key findings

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 62 percent of respondents see the protection of their personal information as a major concern in their life.
  • Only 32 percent feel in control of their privacy, with the remainder not knowing what to do about it.
  • Most Australians have had a negative privacy experience such as harm following a data breach.
  • Australians have strong feelings about certain data practices such as the use of AI.
  • There are high levels of distrust in the ability of organisations to safely handle personal information.
  • Australians want more to be done to protect privacy.
  • Three-quarters of Australians feel data breaches are one of the biggest privacy risks they face today.
  • Seventy percent of Australians place a high level of importance on privacy when choosing a product or service.
  • Australians trust health service providers the most and social media companies the least when it comes to the protection and use of their personal information.
  • Only 42 percent of Australians feel most organisations they deal with are transparent about the way they use their personal information.
  • Over half of Australians consider having to share some personal information if they want to use a service (such as email address and phone number) fair enough.
  • Protecting their child’s personal information is a major concern for 79 percent of parents.


Implications for organisations

Commissioner Falk emphasised the significance of the survey findings for organisations, stating, “The findings point to several areas where organisations can do more to build trust in the community.”

Key takeaways for organisations include:

  • Don’t collect more personal information than you need.
  • Securely store personal information and delete it when it is no longer needed.
  • Help individuals protect their privacy and make informed choices, for example, through privacy education.
  • If you experience a data breach, quickly take steps to prevent customers suffering harm, report the breach and notify individuals if it is likely to result in serious harm, and consider improving your privacy practices.
  • Make good privacy practices part of your point of difference.


Support for privacy law reform

The survey results underscore strong support for reforming privacy laws. Commissioner Falk noted, “We are at a pivotal moment for privacy in Australia, where we can seize the opportunity to ensure laws and practices uphold our fundamental human right to privacy.” The OAIC will use these findings to shape its ongoing input into the review of the Privacy Act, focusing on areas of utmost concern to the community.


Key takeaways

In the wake of the ACAPS 2023 survey, it is evident that data breaches have surged to the forefront of Australians’ privacy concerns. This shift underscores the critical need for organisations to prioritise robust privacy practices and transparency. With low trust levels, and strong public support for privacy law reform, it’s clear that the privacy landscape in Australia is evolving rapidly, demanding responsive action from both the public and private sectors to protect individuals’ data and privacy rights.

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in cases involving alleged cybercrimes and data breaches.

Contact us if you require assistance.