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Aug 31 2015 - 08:00 PM
Turning Location On and Privacy Off

As the scope of technological capabilities continues to grow, the concern about data collection and privacy has been increasing as well. More companies have been utilizing location-based services (LBS) in their apps and software to allow users to meet people in their area or find points of interest nearby. However, LBS adoption has been slower than expected, and researchers are attempting to isolate the reasons for this low rate. How do people’s privacy concerns affect their behavioral decisions on the use of LBS and what specific factors have more of an effect on how likely an individual is to adopt LBS technology?

Researchers from Germany sought to address these questions, specifically within the millennial demographic, by conducting an online survey of individuals ages 18 to 34. The participants answered questions regarding LBS and privacy concerns, including factors such as data collection, improper access, unauthorized secondary use, control, and awareness of privacy practices.

From these models, the researchers posited that the factors behind privacy concerns would affect trust, which would in turn affect perceived risk and thus usage intention. Interestingly enough, concerns about the external use of secondary data by a third party were significantly higher than concerns for internal data being used within the same company.

Collection was the only factor of privacy concern found to have a significant negative effect on trust. Other factors (improper access, errors, and secondary use) did not show similar effects. However, when treating privacy concern as a holistic influence, the negative effect on trust and positive effect on risk were significant. The researchers posited that this reflected the multi-faceted nature of both perceived risk and concern over privacy. They discussed the various factors that could affect an individual’s privacy concerns, including the context behind privacy threats, geographical location, cultural influences, and social circumstances, such as the way an individual’s friends feel about LBS and privacy.

Although this study measured many of the components of privacy concerns and supported the claim that data collection significantly influenced trust and LBS usage, it also established that risk evaluation is complex, and that further analyses will be required to better understand how individuals’ perceived risk affects their decisions to use technologies like LBS that could ultimately infringe upon their privacy. Because the technological landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the need for constantly updated research will persist, particularly because consumers’ perception of risk and privacy will change with new forms of technology. With edtech applications expanding in schools and at home, students and parents may worry about the extent of data collection that occurs from educational mobile apps and websites. Thus as learning experiences continue to expand online, concerns about privacy may expand as well.

Fodor, M., Brem, A. (2015). Do privacy concerns matter for millennials? Results from an empirical analysis of Location-Based Services adoption in Germany. Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 344-353.

Image: Indoor location services on mobile phone by Intel Free Press via Flickr
|By: Jenny Shen|541 Reads