​Survey says Australians don't trust telcos storing their data

A report from Essential Research has highlighted Australians are losing trust in telcos and ISPs storing their data, even though trust is rising for governments, law enforcement, and other businesses.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australians are losing trust in telecommunications and internet service providers' (ISPs) ability to store their data safely and securely, with a report from Essential Research highlighting only 4 percent of respondents have "a lot of trust" in the industry.

29 percent of the 1,020 respondents surveyed for the report [PDF] said they have some sort of trust in telcos and ISPs, a 3 percent drop from the previous year's results.

Security agencies such as the Australian Federal Police (AFP), local police, and ASIO were found to be trusted by 64 percent of respondents, an increase from the 49 percent that said they trusted security agencies to store personal data safely and in a way that would prevent abuse in 2015.

Governments were found to be trusted 3 percent more than they were a year prior, with 43 percent having faith in those elected into office to protect their personal information.

It was revealed last week that Medicare card information was up for sale on the dark web, with the federal government responding swiftly to the claims with a statement that said reports are being taken seriously. The system used to access Medicare card details is now undergoing a review.

However, a remark was made by Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge that downplayed the seriousness of the issue, with Tudge commenting that the only information available was a Medicare card number and the information available was not sufficient to access any personal health record.

The federal government accidentally published the full names, nationalities, locations, arrival dates, and boat arrival information of nearly 10,000 asylum seekers housed both on the Australian mainland and Christmas Island in February 2014.

KPMG said human error and a push to get immigration data up on deadline resulted in the details being published on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's website by mistake.

Last month, the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) alleged that two male police officers accessed the state's criminal records database on a handful of unauthorised occasions.

According to the CCC, a 60-year-old former sergeant undertook checks on the Queensland Police Records and Information Management Exchange (Qprime) for personal purposes. The 31-year-old serving sergeant was accused of accessing Qprime on 10 occasions.

A 43-year-old serving detective senior constable from State Crime Command was similarly charged in March, and another was fined in May for 80 instances of unauthorised Qprime access.

A report from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) in May revealed that only 53 percent of people it surveyed were able to nominate an organisation to report the misuse of their information to.

The OAIC said that when asked, only 47 percent admitted awareness of a Privacy Commissioner -- either federal or state level -- but a mere 7 percent said they would report misuse of information to a Privacy Commissioner. Rather, 12 percent would prefer to report such acts to the police, and 9 percent would rather directly contact the organisation involved.

The survey found that Australians have awarded the highest level of trust to health service providers, followed by financial institutions, and then both state and federal government departments.

Of the 1,800 Australians surveyed, 16 percent said they would avoid dealing with a government agency because of privacy concerns, while 58 percent would avoid dealing with a private company for the same reasons.

Another question asked by Essential Media was whether the individual surveyed had fallen victim to a handful of cyber-related crimes.

33 percent said they had a computer virus that damaged their computer or data; 22 percent admitted to having their credit card information stolen; 14 percent had been the victim of online fraud; cyber bullying was experienced by 10 percent of respondents; online stalking, invasion of privacy, or high levels of harassment was reported by 9 percent; and 6 percent claim to have had their identity stolen.

50 percent -- 510 individuals -- said they had not fallen victim to any of the cyber-related crimes.

A computer virus was reported by more males than females, while cyber bullying was experienced by more females than males, with those aged 18 to 34 the most susceptible to be at the receiving end of the anti-social behaviour. Similarly, online stalking was experienced more by females, with those aged 18-34 again the most targeted.

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