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December 11, 2014

Going offline – online behaviour changing due to privacy concerns

German and UK Internet users more likely to cancel online accounts due to privacy concerns.

By Ellie Burns

New research from Open-Xchange has found that German and UK Internet users are more likely to have stopped using or deleted an account for an online service, app or social network than people from the United States.

The report revealed that German users were most likely to quit a service, with 35.5% per cent of respondents claiming to have already cancelled or stopped using at least one online account or app.

This is in stark contrast to figures from the United States, with only 13% saying they had ceased use of a particular service, while 18% of UK respondents had disengaged.

"The last 18 months has been a pivotal time for the future of the Internet," said Rafael Laguna, CEO, Open-Xchange.

"Suspicions that many of us have long held about the privacy of our data were confirmed with the revelations of Edward Snowden. It brought the discussion about data privacy to the top of the agenda. But a year and a half later we’re no closer resolving the issues raised, despite much posturing from the big Internet companies and bureaucrats."

"Services like social networks, messaging apps and cloud storage have become part of the fabric of our daily lives. But by continuing to pursue exploitative, dishonest business models, we will see more and more people switch off from these online services."

Facebook was at the top of the list for the most likely service to have been quit by people in all three countries, with 17% of Germans, 9% of British and 6% of US Internet users deciding to no longer use the social network.

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The report indicated that personal data, specifically what happens to it, is high on the concerns of Internet users, with 57% saying they would close or stop using an account if their data was sold onto a third party for profiling purposes.

"A mature dialog between web companies and their user base needs to start now," continued Laguna. "And it needs to be simple: show users what’s happening to their data, and if they’re not happy with it, provide full transparency that the data has been deleted."

The report, ‘Crossing the Line’, examined the trigger points that lead people to make the decision to stop using apps and online services. The report surveyed 3,000 Internet users from the UK, US and Germany to gauge varying attitudes towards privacy internationally.

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