In Confidently’s most recent survey of Californians, we’ve learned that -- even in the face of a global pandemic -- privacy remains a top-of-mind concern. Consumers are more eager than ever to take back control of their personal data. More encouragingly, some have already begun to take up their new privacy rights.
But awareness of the CCPA and CPRA, California’s landmark privacy laws, is still low. Even those who have taken up their privacy rights have only acted with a handful of companies, far short of the hundreds of companies who have collected their data.
Much work must still be done to bridge the gap between Californians’ privacy interests and their ability to act on that interest. Confidently is committed to bridging that gap, by providing consumers with the tools they need to take back control of their personal data across their entire digital footprint.
In 2019, California became the first state to adopt comprehensive privacy protections when the legislature passed the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). The CCPA empowers consumers with key privacy rights, including rights to know what personal information companies have collected, to delete their personal data, and to stop companies from selling it.
Then in 2020, most people’s worlds were turned completely upside down. How has this affected consumer sentiment towards privacy? Despite a turbulent 2020, Californians doubled down on privacy, adopting the CPRA (California Privacy Rights Act), a ballot initiative which provides more protection to consumers and teeth for the state to enforce privacy laws.
To gauge the sentiment of California consumers on privacy, Confidently first conducted a survey in April 2019 after the CCPA was passed. We then conducted a second survey in April 2020 after the pandemic hit, and we recently conducted a third survey in January 2021 to answer these questions. Our recent survey was conducted to a random sample of 200 Californians, with a margin of error of +/- 6%. Here’s what we found…
January 2021 Survey Results
Despite a turbulent year with many other things to worry about, consumers continue to believe that protecting their online privacy is very important. On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the most important, consumers ranked privacy as 8.5 in our most recent survey, vs. 8.3 in 2020 and 8.7 in 2019.
Interestingly, our survey shows that consumers have become less “outraged” over time by companies who sell and collect their personal data without their permission. In 2019, 57% of consumers thought it was outrageous that companies were profiting off their data without their permission. This year, when asked the same question, only 39% agreed.
However, over that same time period, more consumers are concerned that their online privacy has been compromised and want to take back control of their personal data. 46% of consumers surveyed in 2021 expressed this sentiment versus 33% in 2019. After the initial shock and outrage we saw in the 2019 survey, we believe consumers now want to take action.
In our survey, consumers are most concerned about sensitive information such as passwords and Social Security Numbers. Good news! The new CPRA introduces “sensitive personal information” as a new regulated dataset in California. The category is subject to new disclosure and purpose limitation requirements, and consumers have new rights designed to limit businesses’ use of their sensitive PI.
Not surprisingly, consumers show only moderate familiarity with either the CCPA or the CPRA (averaging 4.2-4.5 where 10 is very familiar). After all, we can’t expect the average consumer to be a privacy expert.
Most California consumers have not taken advantage of their new privacy rights. In our recent survey, 55% of consumers say they have not taken action on any of their new privacy rights (the right to know, right to delete, right to stop sales). Why? Because 71% of those people weren’t aware of these rights. Another 18% of those non-action-takers were aware of their rights, but didn’t know how to do it or found the process too difficult.
Among consumers who have taken advantage of their privacy rights, most have acted only with a handful of companies (median response is 5 companies). It takes a consumer hours of time and correspondence over weeks or even a month to complete privacy requests. We’re amazed this many consumers have persevered to take up their new rights at all. However, Confidently estimates that hundreds, if not thousands of companies are collecting and selling a given consumer’s data on average -- so acting on a handful of companies is a good start, but it’s far from sufficient.
Despite everything that’s happened in the last year, privacy remains top of mind for consumers. We applaud the CCPA and CRPA initiatives as they provide consumers long overdue rights to take back control over their personal data.
However, consumers need help -- and they’re primed for action. Not every consumer has the time to navigate the pages of legislation to understand their rights. Moreover, to effectively manage their privacy a consumer has to deal with hundreds of companies.