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Amid rise of autonomous machines, location data sharing needs fundamental rethink – HERE Technologies study

Amid rise of autonomous machines, location data sharing needs fundamental rethink – HERE Technologies study
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
5 March 2018

Mistrust, concern and uncertainty over how companies and service providers collect and use location data are revealed in survey of 8,000 people across eight countries

Two in five people discovered they share location data with more apps than they thought

Only one in five feel they have full control over their location data

Most would consider using an AI bot to manage their data privacy in future

Concerns that companies are abusing public trust in the way they gather and use location data mean a fundamental rethink is needed in order for people to embrace new services such as autonomous cars and drone deliveries, according to a major new study by HERE Technologies.

Today, just 20% of people feel they have full control over their personal location data, with 44% sharing location data with apps and service providers unintentionally, despite trying to restrict access. Some 76% people are left feeling stressed or vulnerable about sharing their location data, according to the study.

Insufficient controls for management of personal data, coupled with a lack of transparency on the part of data collectors, are the main reasons why respondents felt trust was being abused. The research gathered the views of more than 8,000 people across eight countries and included in-depth interviews with international privacy experts.

Other key findings included:

  • Around 65% of people have shared their location data with an app or service provider at least once
  • Just a quarter of respondents said they were aware of what happens with their location data once it is collected
  • Despite expressing major concerns about sharing their location data, the clear majority do not actively engage with their location data settings on their devices
  • Less than a fifth trust in laws and regulations to protect against misuse of their location data
  • Less than a fifth trust that services collecting their location data will handle their data appropriately 

The study revealed that increased transparency and control over how location data is collected and used could increase consumer trust and make them more willing to share. Around 70% said they would grant access to a data collector if they knew why their location data was needed, what it was used for, and that it was protected, stored safely or systematically deleted. A similar number said they would also allow access if they could more easily change their settings, withdraw access and delete their history.

Accordingly, most people would be open to utilizing new technologies to help people manage their data, the study showed. Some 63% said they would use a ‘privacy service’, which would manage their privacy settings based on their preferences on any device that they use. Meanwhile, 51% said they would entrust their private data management needs to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) bot.

Among the many benefits gained by sharing their location data, people ranked greater car safety the highest, with some 73% of people saying they would be likely to share their location data in such a scenario. Services which enable people to save money, get discounts and rewards also ranked highly.

In more futuristic scenarios, 72% of consumers would be willing to share their location data for an autonomous car to find the most efficient routes, while 69% would share to enable a drone to find a missing person, pet or item.

Dr. Peter Kürpick, Chief Platform Officer at HERE Technologies, said: “People share location data with app providers because of the many benefits, whether it’s food delivery, hailing a ride, or getting the most out of social media. But, for many, it can be a trade with which they’re uneasy. While the lack of trust is problematic today, we believe that there could be greater challenges down the road if privacy practices continue to be dominated by a click-to-consent approach.”

He added: “Autonomous transportation and other new services will require increasingly time-sensitive and machine-to-machine communications, and for people to enjoy uninterrupted access to these kinds of services, a new approach to privacy is needed. We believe the answer is in equipping people with transparent user-friendly settings that allow them to grant and withdraw access rights as well as manage their privacy preferences, helping them stay in better control of what they’re sharing across their digital life. For our part, we’re exploring privacy-as-a-service concepts for potential development. However, it is also paramount that there is a collaborative approach across different industry segments to develop the right solutions. Verimi, in which HERE is an investor, is a good example of a cross-industry initiative which will help people manage their data and privacy.”

Country findings

The quantitative research surveyed people in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK and the U.S., revealing the following:

  • Australian consumers are cautious about their location data and are more concerned about lack of transparency than the average
  • Brazilians are the most enthusiastic about sharing today, especially in the social context
  • France is the country where the ‘privacy paradox’ is most evident – with people expressing high concern about their privacy, but being less likely to do anything about it
  • In Germany, safety is paramount when it comes to sharing location data, with Germans more likely to restrict access and share location data with fewer apps than the global average
  • Consumers in Japan are the most anxious and strongly restrict access today, but they are willing to share for greater convenience and time savings
  • The Dutch are pragmatic in their behavior and value personalized services and increased control
  • UK consumers are the least restrictive in their behavior and less anxious than others
  • Americans trust ride hailing companies more than their government when it comes to location data

The full report can be downloaded here:

About HERE Technologies
HERE, the Open Location Platform company, enables people, enterprises and cities to harness the power of location. By making sense of the world through the lens of location we empower our customers to achieve better outcomes – from helping a city manage its infrastructure or an enterprise optimize its assets to guiding drivers to their destination safely. To learn more about HERE, including our new generation of cloud-based location platform services, and