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‘Angry’: Horror year for corporate hacks leaves consumers demanding compo

Australians are demanding better compensation when their personal data is stolen from big companies, with a string of high-profile hacks over the past year heightening tempers.

Figures published on Monday by Deloitte show one-third of consumers have been affected by a data breach in the past 12 months – 69 per cent of whom felt vulnerable or angry as a result.

That’s not surprising given two of the largest hacks in Australian history have occurred over the past year, including about 10 million Optus and Medibank customers having their personal data taken by criminals.

Deloitte’s cyber risk advisory partner Kate Monckton said Australians feel as though they have lost control of their personal data.

“Every day, we jump online to stream, browse, subscribe, log in, connect, order, access, view, download, play and interact,” she said.

“And often that involves the personal information exchange for service access that is a key to 21st century living – from name and address to date of birth to bank or credit card details.”

The latest edition of Deloitte’s annual survey found 56 per cent of Australians feel like they have been required to provide more personal information to a business than is actually necessary.

About 35 per cent have opted not to buy a product or service because of data collection requirements.

In other words, Deloitte says Australians are trying to take back control of their personal information, with 90 per cent of those surveyed saying they want more to be done to protect sensitive personal information.

“Many of us are living with an underlying, ever-present fear that we’re losing the data control battle – we’re experiencing ‘data insecurity’,” Ms Monckton said.

“Confidence in businesses and brands to protect personal information has been eroded and trust is on shaky ground.

“We are more privacy aware than ever.”

On that score the genie is already out of the bottle, with experts pointing out that the types of data often regarded as personal – including names, emails and dates of birth – are now not so.

But against that reality, more than half of Australians said governments should be responsible for maintaining better standards regulating data that is stored, according to Deloitte.

This points to a gap between what people want and what they’re getting when it comes to cyber security and the protection of their personal data, Ms Monckton said.

“Effective change will need active engagement from organisations, government and individuals,” she said.

“We can all be proactive with privacy and our personal information – from staying informed about data privacy, using and regularly changing strong passwords, regularly reviewing and adjusting app permissions, limiting data sharing, reporting suspected breaches to relevant authorities or platforms, and supporting privacy-conscious companies.”

Interestingly, there was a generational divide in the data when it came to how Australians respond to being a victim of a corporate hack.

Almost half of consumers who were victims of a hack proactively left the provider who failed to safeguard their information, while only 26 per cent of those aged 50 and over did.

That indicates younger Australians are more likely to punish companies for wrongdoing than older people, Deloitte said.

“Younger people may be more forgiving of organisations around data breaches, but they’re also more likely to take the initiative to address issues themselves rather than wait for others to solve them,” Ms Monckton said.

“But it would be a mistake for organisations to think they are more laissez faire about privacy.

“They’re actually taking matters into their own hands by being more open to changing providers in the event of a breach incident and are actively engaging in privacy-conscious behaviours.”

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