KPMG Survey: American consumers want more control, visibility into how companies use their personal data

Majority of consumers are deeply suspicious of what companies are doing with their personal data and report concerns for how data is collected and sold

NEW YORK, July 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A new KPMG survey revealed that U.S. consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with, and distrustful of, how companies use, manage and protect their personal data. According to the survey, 56 percent of Americans reported wanting more control over their personal data, and insisted that both corporations and government must play an active role in protecting consumer data.

Ninety-seven percent of American consumers indicated that data privacy is important to them, with 87 percent characterizing it as a human right. However, consumers are deeply suspicious of what companies are doing with their data: 68 percent don't trust companies to ethically sell personal data, and 54 percent don't trust companies to use personal data in an ethical way.

"With consumers indicating that they see data privacy as a human right, and new legislation expected in the years ahead, it is critical that companies begin to mature privacy programs and policies," said Orson Lucas, principal, KPMG Cyber Security Services. "Consumer demands for the ethical use of data and increased control over their own data must be a core consideration in developing data privacy policies and practices.

Even though respondents indicated that data privacy is important to them, most Americans still engage in online behaviors they consider risky. The survey found that:

-- About 75 percent of Americans say they consider it risky to use the same password for multiple accounts, use public Wi-Fi, or save a card to a website or online store. Yet, more than 40 percent engage in those behaviors.

-- While 65 percent of Americans reported avoiding opening email attachments from unknown senders, only 31 percent install mobile device security software and 20 percent use their own virtual private network (VPN) when possible.

"Part of the challenge for corporations will be getting employees and customers to do their part in protecting their own data," said Steve Stein, principal, KPMG Cyber Security Services. "Developing defensible notices with understandable language and data protection controls that guide employees and consumers have to be embedded in the data security agenda."

While most survey respondents indicated that consumers themselves have a responsibility to protect consumer data, even more want the government and companies to play a role. KPMG found that:

-- Nine in 10 Americans insist companies (91%) and the government (90%) have a responsibility to protect consumer data

-- Almost all (91%) agree the following data privacy rights of the California Consumer Privacy Act should be extended to all U.S. Citizens: the right to delete personal data, and the right to know how their data is being used

-- More than nine in 10 Americans say companies should put data privacy guidelines and policies in place, be held responsible for corporate data breaches, take corporate data responsibility seriously, and take the lead in establishing corporate data responsibility.

To be able to provide consumers with increased control over their data, businesses should consider leveraging data discovery and protection tools, and exploring novel uses of blockchain, and artificial intelligence. These technologies can help organizations better track the source of their data, assure its accuracy, make it easily discoverable, protect it and build greater external visibility into the data being collected. In fact, according to a survey of 600 global technology executives conducted in late March/early April, KPMG found that improving cybersecurity and data privacy is one of the top four objectives for which their organizations are investing in emerging technologies such as process automation, smart analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

About the survey: The findings in the New Imperative for Corporate Data Responsibility report at URL are based on the results from a survey of 1,000 respondents in the U.S. The sample was balanced to reflect national representation of age, race, gender and region. The online survey was fielded between May 19, 2020, and May 21, 2020.


KPMG is one of the world's leading professional services firms, providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services to many of the world's largest and most prestigious organizations.

With our deep experience and innovative approaches, KPMG LLP can help your company by striking the right balance between preparing for tomorrow and delivering real results today. KPMG LLP provides audit, tax and advisory services and industry insight and can help organizations meet their compliance obligations, navigate risks and perform in today's dynamic and challenging environments.

KPMG LLP is the independent U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"). KPMG International's independent member firms have 219,000 professionals working in 147 countries. Learn more at


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What should corporations do now?

KPMG recommends the following measures for employers seeking to improve their data privacy practices:

1) Adopt a principles-based approach to data privacy and security. Leverage emerging technologies to better protect and manage customer data.

2) Conduct privacy impact assessments, especially as new return-to-work solutions are introduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

3) Lead from strengths, and make sure consumers know about your data privacy strategy.

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