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​Australians Want Control Over When they Share Personal Data via Internet of Things and Data Analytics – Unisys Security Index™ Finds

Organisations need to address privacy and data security concerns and provide compelling reasons for consumers to agree to share personal data via IoT

SYDNEY, 19 July, 2017 – Australians are selective about when they support sharing personal data with government agencies and commercial organisations via Internet of Things – according to the 2017 Unisys Security Index

The vast majority of Australians, 82 percent, support using a button on their phone or smartwatch to alert police to their location during emergencies. Yet only 35 percent support police being able to monitor fitness tracker data anytime to determine their location at a certain time. 

The findings indicate that Australians will embrace IoT where they see a compelling reason such as personal safety and medical emergencies, but concerned about privacy and data security mean they want to be able to control which organisations can access their data.  

Most Australians support (75 percent of respondents) medical devices such as pacemakers or blood sugar sensors automatically transmitting significant changes to a patient's doctor, and sensors in luggage to advise passengers if their luggage has been unloaded and what carousel it will be on (65 percent).  

Yet less than one in three people support using a smartwatch app to make payments (29 percent), or a health insurer accessing fitness tracker data to determine a premium or reward customers for good behaviour (26 percent).

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices, sensors or computer systems that can connect and exchange information with each other using the internet. Unisys examined consumer reaction to the trend as part of the 2017 Unisys Security Index - a global study that gauges the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security issues. The study polled 1,002 adults in Australia during April 2017.  

"These findings highlight that when it comes to personal data there is a very delicate balance between privacy, security and convenience – even for organisations generally trusted by the public," said John Kendall, director of border and national security programs, Unisys. "For example, people are happy to use their smartwatch to alert police to their location when they need help, but they don't want police to freely access that data at any time – they want to control when they share their data." 

What Are the Barriers to IoT Acceptance?

Privacy and security concerns are key reasons Australians do not support IoT. In particular,- if they do not feel it is a compelling enough reason to share their data or if they do not want an organisation to have such data about them. Data security is the biggest barrier cited for not supporting a smartwatch payment app. 

Richard Parker, vice president financial services, Unisys Asia Pacific says: "To address consumer concern around data security of smartwatch payment channels, banks need a multi-pronged approach that spans technology and policies to secure the data, as well as reassuring customers by communicating the steps taken by the bank to protect them – a fine line in delivering a frictionless customer experience whilst making sure they are secure."  

Which Wearable Biometrics Do Aussies Support?

Wearable biometrics are part of the IoT phenomenon: wearable technology that analyses human characteristics to confirm an identity or monitor critical medical data.  

There is strong support, three in four Australians, for police or border security staff wearing facial recognition body cameras to identify criminals or terrorists who are on watch lists; and medical sensors transmitting any significant changes to a patient's doctor.  

Fingerprint scans on smartwatches could address the security concerns around smartwatch payment apps. "Approximately half of Aussie consumers support a fingerprint scan to control access to data on a smartwatch (52 percent) or to authorise a payment from the smartwatch (48 percent). This is a clear signal to banks that biometrics could help alleviate consumer concerns about smartwatch payment channels," says Mr Parker.  

While 50 percent of Australians support airline staff wearing facial recognition glasses to verify the identity of passengers boarding aircraft at airports, only 29 percent support the same glasses being used to identify VIP customers for special treatment. 

John Kendall explains: "Aussies see it as a trade-off: is it a compelling enough reason for that organisation to capture this information about me? The findings reveal law enforcement, national security and serious medical conditions are considered acceptable justification, but customer loyalty programs and employee tracking are not – the impact on privacy outweighs the personal benefit."  

Support for Data Analytics Varies

Support for analysis of data collected from a range of sources also varies – even among different government agencies. Fifty-seven percent of Australians support border security officers analysing the travel history of passengers, and whom they are travelling with, to determine if they are eligible for fast-track border clearance. Yet only 40 percent support welfare agencies accessing personal spending data from credit card records and insurance policies to verify if benefit claims are legitimate, and even less (32 percent) support the tax office using the same data to verify income tax returns. 

Furthermore, the majority of Australians do not support data analytics being used to sell goods and services to them. Sixty-two percent do not support banks monitoring individual customer spending behaviour to offer related products such as insurance for items they have purchased.            

Richard Parker explains that the use of data analytics must be sensitive to customer concerns. "Customers expect businesses to know them based on the history of their relationship. In a world where interactions may be across a range of channels and not just in person, many organisations are turning to data analytics to provide extra insight. Ironically, while they may be trying to improve the customer experience, if businesses cross the line and appear to invade their privacy by revealing that they know more about them than what the customer has knowingly shared, it just turns the customer off. Technology alone is not enough; it must be used in the context of understanding human nature and cultural norms." 

The technology enabling IoT will continue to evolve and progress. However the Unisys Security Index findings suggest that organisations planning to tap into the trend will first need to understand and respond to consumer concerns around privacy and data security. 

Download the full report of Australian results and infographic here.  

About the Unisys Security Index

Unisys has conducted the Unisys Security Index – the only recurring snapshot of security concerns conducted globally – since 2007 in order to provide an ongoing, statistically-robust measure of concern about security. The index is a calculated score out of 300 covering changing consumer attitudes over time across eight areas of security in four categories: national security and disaster/epidemic, in the National Security category; bankcard fraud and financial obligations, in the Financial Security category; viruses/hacking and online transactions, in the Internet Security category; and identity theft and personal safety, in the Personal Security category. The 2017 Unisys Security Index is based on online surveys conducted between 6-18 April, 2017 of nationally representative samples of at least 1,000 adults in each of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, the U.S. and the UK. The margin of error at a country level is +/-3.1 percent at 95 percent confidence level, and 0.9 percent at a global level. For more information on the 2017 Unisys Security Index, visit (  

About Unisys

Unisys is a global information technology company that specializes in providing industry-focused solutions integrated with leading-edge security to clients in the government, financial services and commercial markets. Unisys offerings include security solutions, advanced data analytics, cloud and infrastructure services, application services and application and server software. For more information, visit:  

About Unisys Asia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, Unisys delivers services and solutions to clients in more than 15 countries across the region. For more information visit:

Follow us on twitter @UnisysAPAC, LinkedIn, and in China on: and WeChat Official Account: Unisys China.


Candi Hindocha, Impact Communications
+61 2 9519 5411 or +61 459 104 978,

Claire Hosegood, Unisys Asia Pacific,
+61 411 253 663,

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