Privacy And Mobile Technology

    February 28, 2007

A new survey from Harris Interactive shows that US mobile phone users are concerned about privacy when it comes to location-based services and presence technology. These services, some of which are available, can tell where a person is physically located, what communication device they are using and how they can be reached.

According to the survey one in four mobile users would like to know the availability of their contacts and 27 percent say that is an attractive feature they would be interested in. Interestingly when asked how they would feel about people who have the same information about them the majority responded that they felt it would be an invasion of privacy.

More than half (58%) would be comfortable with their spouse or significant other knowing where they are and if they were available. Less was comfortable with the idea that their children (46%) or other family members (43%) would have information on their availability and location. Only a small percentage would want their co-workers (6%) or employers (5%) to have the same information.

General awareness and purchase intent for LBS and presence services are low. Only 4 percent would switch wireless carriers to have those features. Three in ten consumers would be interested in more information.

“We expect these technologies eventually to catch on," said Joe Porus, VP and Chief Architect with Harris Interactive’s Technology and Telecom Practice. "But providers must give users control over location-based features to allay privacy concerns." Milt Ellis, VP and Sr. Consultant with the practice, added, "For marketers of these services, the key initially is to target groups of users —such as teenagers, busy executives, delivery and emergency service personnel—who value the benefits of being connected more than they worry about privacy."
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