According to Cisco’s 2023 Consumer Privacy Survey, younger consumers are taking deliberate action to protect their privacy, as 42 per cent of consumers aged 18-24 exercise their data subject access rights, compared with just 6 per cent for consumers 75 and older. Many say they have lost trust in organisations because of their use of artificial intelligence (AI), and 50 per cent of respondents look to the government to set rules and enforce privacy protections. The survey also provides early insights on generative AI (GenAI), revealing that only 12 per cent of respondents identify as regular users. From shopping to streaming services and to healthcare, 48 per cent of survey respondents agree that AI can be useful in improving their lives. A majority of respondents (54 per cent) said they are willing to share their anonymised personal data to help improve AI products and decision-making.

Nevertheless, as per the study, 62 per cent of surveyed consumers expressed concern about how organisations are using their personal data for AI today, with 60 per cent saying that they have already lost trust in organisations because of their AI use. Organisations can implement measures to (re)gain customer trust, such as auditing products and solutions for bias, being more transparent and explaining how the AI works, ensuring human involvement, and instituting an AI ethics management program.

Commenting on the report, Dev Stahlkopf, executive vice president and chief legal officer, Cisco, said, “The world is watching how companies will approach AI in a responsible way. For Cisco, this means keeping a keen focus on respecting privacy and human rights as we incorporate AI technology.”

Meanwhile, the survey also provides an early snapshot of the use of GenAI and some of the potential risks and privacy challenges. GenAI is still relatively new to most people. Over half (52 per cent) of survey respondents said they were not aware of it. Of those that use GenAI regularly (12 per cent), only half indicated that they were refraining from entering personal or confidential information into GenAI applications. It is notable that the other 50 per cent may indeed be entering personal or confidential information. This is despite 88 per cent of respondents indicating that they would be “somewhat” or “very” concerned if their data entered in GenAI were to be shared.

Further, this year, 33 per cent of respondents qualify as “privacy actives”: they care about privacy, are willing to act to protect it, and have acted, for example by switching companies or providers because of their data policies or data sharing practices. Younger consumers are the most willing to take action to protect their privacy. 42  per cent of consumers, aged 18-34, are privacy actives, a  percentage that steadily decreases with age. The  percentage of consumers requesting data deletions or change rose to 19 per cent, up from 14 per cent last year. Again, this is highly correlated with age: 32 per cent of consumers aged 18-24 make data deletion or change requests compared to only 4 per cent of older consumers.

The survey notes that public awareness of privacy laws continues to be relatively low with 46 per cent of respondents aware of their country’s privacy law. Those who are aware of the law are more likely to feel they can adequately protect their data: only 40 per cent of those unaware of their country’s law feel they can protect their data compared to 74 per cent of those who are aware of the law. 68  per cent of consumers aged 18-24 feel they can protect their data, and this gradually declines to 47 per cent of consumers over age 65 saying so. However, many consumers look to the government to set the standard of care and enforce privacy protections. Half (50 per cent) of respondents said national or local government should have the primary role in protecting data, whereas 21 per cent said private companies should be primarily responsible for protecting data.

Meanwhile, Harvey Jang, vice president, deputy general counsel and chief privacy officer , Cisco said, “As governments pass laws and companies seek to build trust, consumers must also take action and use technology responsibly to protect their own privacy.”

Consumers are split on the value of data localisation. Most have heard about such requirements, and 76 per cent indicated initially that data localisation might be good. However, when considering the cost associated with it, thereby making products and services more expensive, only 44 per cent were in favour of data localisation.