Privacy Awareness Week (Personal Data): technology suspicion – consumer concerns surrounding voice and digital assistants

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Michelle Aggromito, Max Evans and Rebecca Gill

Protecting personal data is a fundamental aspect of any privacy regime. As we become more technological advanced, organisations are finding innovative ways to interact with consumers through more intuitive communication channels, such as voice recognition via digital assistants. But not everyone trusts such technology, as Microsoft’s April 2019 report on voice assistants and conversational artificial intelligence has found.

The report found that 41% of voice assistant users were concerned about trust, privacy and passive listening. Other interesting findings of the report include:

  • A majority of users (52%) had concerns surrounding security for personal information, and around a quarter of the users (24%) had suspicions surrounding the ways in which companies might use the information.
  • Almost half the users (41%) were concerned with their devices actively listening or recording conversations when idle.
  • Around a quarter of the users (14%) did not trust the companies behind the voice assistant, and 36% of users did not want their personal information or data being used.

According to the report, headlines surrounding topics such as misunderstood commands and unrequested purchases have greatly influenced consumer attitudes towards these forms of technology. Clearly users are struggling to reconcile the competing interests. The technology understands you better the more information it collects from you. Where will you draw the line between these interests?

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