UK consumers are resigned to poor data security, research finds

The new EY research in UK’s digital households found over four in ten consumers believed their data would never be fully secure, despite the recent regulatory changes including GDPR.

The consulting firm EY has published the security section of its annual survey of UK households about their digital lives. The good news is the majority of consumers are aware of the new privacy data protection regulations. Close to seven out of ten consumers know GDPR and “what this means for how their data is stored, managed and used”. The bad news is the confidence in the effectiveness of the legal measures is low. Only 43% of consumers “believe that the changes resulting from GDPR will significantly improve the security of their personal data”. Worse still, almost equal number of consumers (41%) have almost given up, thinking it “impossible to keep their personal data secure when using the internet or internet-enabled devices”.

When it comes to who to trust to keep personal data secure, broadband providers and utility companies came on top, winning the trust of 28% and 21% of the households surveyed. On the other end, mobile app developers and social networks fared the worst, being trusted by only 2% and 3% of all households. Mobile operators and pay-TV providers also came closer to the bottom of the table than to the top.

EY digital household trust in data security 2019

EY thinks at least three lessons can be learned from the findings:

  1. Businesses should put trust at the heart of all the customer interactions;
  2. Businesses should communicate about security with purpose, clarity, and consistency;
  3. Businesses should ensure that their innovation agenda should be built on an ethical data management system.

This report is part of the overall “Decoding the digital home” project and was made on the survey of 2,500 UK households.

Estonia is best digital home away from home, report says

Expats voted Estonia to the top of their digital life quality list in a new survey.

InterNations, a social network for expats, recently conducted a global survey to gauge the perception of digital lives enjoyed by those living in a foreign country. 68 countries were featured. Although most of the findings confirmed the conventional wisdom, the report also threw up a couple of surprises.

Overall, the Nordic countries ranked high, with Finland, Norway, and Denmark all in the top 5 best countries for digital life table. But topping the list is Estonia, which ranked exceptionally high on the e-government index, with 94% of all expats surveyed feeling satisfied with the availability of the country’s administrative services. Estonia also topped the table of unrestricted access to online services. The country, similar to other Baltic and Nordic countries, adopts a light-touch approach towards Internet. Following Estonia on the e-government satisfaction list is Singapore, with Norway coming second on the unrestricted access to online service table.

Unsurprisingly, South Korea, which leads the world in broadband access, also tops the league of high-speed internet at home, followed by Taiwan and Finland. Expats were also asked to rate their experience of cashless payment. The four Nordic countries took the top 4 positions, with Estonia rounding off the top 5. Finland was ranked in the first place, with 96% expats saying they are happy with the experience.

A question that is particularly relevant to expats is how easy it is to get a local mobile number. Here we see a bit surprise. Myanmar, which ranked at the bottom of the overall Digital Life table, came on top in this list, followed by New Zealand and Israel.

On the other end of the tables, China was only beaten by Myanmar to the bottom of the overall Digital Life table and sat comfortably at the bottom of “Unrestricted Access to Internet”, thanks to the all powerful Great Firewall. This is particularly pertinent for expats who would have a stronger need for the global social networks more than the local residents, to communicate with their home countries. 83% of all expats were unsatisfied with their access to social networks from China, followed in the second from bottom by Saudi Arabia, where 46% said they were unsatisfied.

The ranking may not be a big surprise, but the margin between the bottom two countries may be. The only table that China was not in the bottom 10 was the one on cashless payment. But, maybe surprisingly, with all the fanfare about the contactless payment experience enabled by companies like Alibaba and Tencent, expats living in China did not manage to take the country to the top 10 table either.

Best and worst countries for Digital Life

British parents are increasingly worried about the Internet – Ofcom

Research into children’s media consumption published by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom revealed that only 54% of parents agreed the benefits of the internet outweighed its risks, the lowest level since 2011.

The report, “Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report 2018” (and its Annex) and “Life on the small screen: What children are watching and why” were made by Ofcom with analysis of 2,000 British children aged 3-15 years and their parents. Less than half of the parents of 3-4-years agreed that the internet is doing more good than bad.

When prompted with the major concerns parents have about their children’s online life, “companies collecting information about what their child is doing online” came the top with 50% of parents expressing concern. Three other issues have increased in their level of concern from the similar research a year ago: the child damaging their reputation (42% vs. 37%), the pressure on the child to spend money online (41% vs. 35%), and the possibility of the child being radicalised online (29% vs. 25%).

Ofcom 2019 1 parent concerns

Published by Ofcom today, the reports showed that on average, a 5-15-year old child would spend more than four hours a day in front screens, including 2 hours 11 minutes online (same as a year ago) and 1 hour 52 minutes watching TV on the TV sets (8 minutes shorter than 2017).

“Children have told us in their own words why online content captures most of their attention. These insights can help inform parents and policymakers as they consider the role of the internet in children’s lives,” said Yih-Choung Teh, Strategy and Research Group Director at Ofcom. “This research also sheds light on the challenge for UK broadcasters in competing for kids’ attention. But it’s clear that children today still value original TV programmes that reflect their lives, and those primetime TV moments which remain integral to family life.”

There are differences in media consumption patterns between age-groups and between social groups. For example, the older the age group, the more time the children would spend online, from less than nine hours per week for the 3-4-year olds to 20.5 hours for the 12-15-year olds. Or, children of the 3-4-year old group in C2DE households spend more time going online, playing games and watching TV on a TV set, compared to those in ABC1 households.

Ofcom 2019 2 weekly hours

When it comes to device ownership and the devices used for media consumption, the research found that 1% of 3-4-year olds already have their own smartphones, and 19% have their own tablets. The penetration rates go up to 83% and 50% respectively in the 12-15-year old group. Again, there are differences between sub-groups on the devices used to consume media on their devices. While TV sets are still being used by more than 90% of children across all the sub-groups, the percentage of them also watching TV on other devices increased from 30% in the 3-4-year olds to 62% in the 12-15-year group.

The penetration of streaming services including Netflix, Now TV, and Amazon Video is already fairly high among all the sub-groups, with 32% of 3-4-year olds using at least one of them, going up to 58% in the 12-15-year olds. But YouTube is still leading in popularity. 45% of 3-4-year olds have watched YouTube, the penetration would go up to 89% in the 12-15-year olds.

As well as content consumption, content creation is also on the rise among children, with “making a video” one of the most popular online activities. While on average 40% of 5-15-years have made an online video, nearly half of all 12-15-year olds have done so.

Ofcom 2019 3 making video

Time spent on online gaming has remained largely unchanged from a year ago, ranging from a little over 6 hours per week in the 3-4-year group to nearly 14 hours in the 12-15-year group. But gaming is the online activity that demonstrates the biggest gender disparity. While boys in all age groups spent more time on gaming than girls, the difference went up to over 7 hours in the 12-15-year olds. On average girls in this group spent 9 hours 18 minutes playing online games while boys of this age spent 16 hours 42 minutes.

Social networks are another important type of media consumption by children. Facebook remained to be the most popular social media among the 12-15 years group, but its downward trend has continued to the lowest level of 72% penetration since the high of 97% in 2011. Gaining popularity are Instagram (65%, up from 57% in 2017), Snapchat (62%, up from 58%), and WhatsApp (43%, up from 32%). More significantly, when asked to name their “main site or app”, equal number of 12-15-year olds (31%) named Facebook and Snapchat.

Ofcom 2019 4 social networks

Astoundingly, 1% of 3-4-year olds, 4% of 5-7-year olds, and 18% of 8-11-year olds already have social network accounts, despite that most social networks set their minimum age at 13. WhatsApp raised its minimum age for EU users to 16 prior to GDPR came into effect. At the same time, less than a third of parents were aware of Facebook’s age limit, with even less awareness for the age restrictions of Instagram and Snapchat.

Ofcom 2019 5 parent awareness

EE and ITV data shows football watching is coming home

EE reported sharp drop in broadband traffic when World Cup matches are on, while ITV registered the highest viewership on England’s match against Colombia.

The ongoing FIFA World Cup is pulling users away from the internet and pushing them back in front of the television, it seems. If they have to go outdoors while the match is on, then people switch to live streaming on mobile. The chart below shows how viewers followed the matches on Tuesday 03 July:

How fans watched England's win on the EE network

A few factors may have contributed to the lower traffic registered during the Sweden vs. Switzerland match: it was still office hours therefore fewer people were out in the street; when streaming indoor the traffic would more likely go through Wi-Fi; and the relatively weaker following by the general public.

When the England vs. Colombia match was played, a World Cup record of 23.6 million watched it on ITV at home (the number of those watching in pubs are not available). The mobile traffic pattern also followed closely the progress of the match: peaks at the beginning of the match and the penalty shootout, canyons at half time, 90 minutes, then off the cliff after the last penalty was kicked (and scored).

An interesting data point is that around 1/5 of viewers watched the ITV live streaming through the Sky Go aggregator, despite that ITV Hub is free to all, as is the BBC iPlayer.

Equally interesting is the next chart, which shows mobile users’ behaviours when they moved away from live streaming. They went on social networks:

Fans turn off live streams and take to social during half time

An eye-catching anomaly on the chart is that, right after the match was finished, the traffic generated by Snapchat overtook that by Facebook. As Snap users tend to be younger, this may serve as a reminder to Facebook that it may not be the default platform by the next generation internet users when they share their feelings.

Now the nation is increasingly excited with England in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, the match against Sweden, played next Saturday, will almost guarantee to generate higher mobile traffic and viewership, this time on the BBC.