Cellphone App Users Bullish on Privacy

When it comes to managing mobile data, adult users of cellphones treasure their privacy, a study found.



A nationwide survey of 2,254 adults conducted by the Pew Internet Project revealed that among cellphone owners who download applications, more than half decided to not install one when they discover how much personal information they would need to share in order to use it. Additionally, the study found almost one-third of app users have uninstalled an app upon discovering it was collecting personal information they didn’t want to share.

Owners of both Android and iPhone devices are equally likely to delete or entirely avoid cellphone apps because of concerns over personal information.

Cellphone owners take a number of steps to protect access to their personal information and mobile data. Almost half back up photos, contacts and other files on their phones; almost one-third have cleared the browsing or search history on their phones; and almost one in five have turned off the location tracking feature.

Nearly one-third of cellphone owners have lost a phone or had one stolen, and 12% have had another person access the contents of their phone in a way that made them feel their privacy was invaded.

Cellphone users who have actually experienced a lost or stolen phone are no more likely than average to back up the contents of their phone, however.

Among cellphone users ages 18 to 24, almost half report that their phone has been lost or stolen, and almost one-quarter said that someone else has accessed their phone in a way that compromised their privacy.

Smartphone owners are especially vigilant when it comes to mobile data management. Six in 10 smartphone owners say they back up the contents of their phone, half have cleared their phone’s search or browsing history, and one-third say they have turned off their phone’s location tracking feature. Despite these steps, smartphone owners are also twice as likely as other cellphone owners to have had someone access their phone in a way that made them feel like their privacy had been invaded. Owners of smartphones and more basic phones are equally likely to say their phone has been lost or stolen.