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Privacy Awareness Week (Personal Data): Technology Suspicion - Consumer Concerns Surrounding Voice and Digital Assistants

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?

Max Evans and Rebecca Gill contributed to this piece.

Copyright 2020 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 137


About this Author

Cameron Abbott, Technology, Attorney, Australia, corporate, KL Gates Law Firm

Mr. Abbott is a corporate lawyer who focuses on technology, telecommunications and broadcasting transactions. He assists corporations and vendors in managing their technology requirements and contracts, particularly large outsourcing and technology procurements issues including licensing terms for SAP and Oracle and major system integration transactions.

Mr. Abbott partners with his clients to ensure market leading solutions are implemented in to their businesses. He concentrates on managing and negotiating complex technology solutions, which...

Rob Pulham Corporate Attorney K&L Gates
Special Counsel

Rob Pulham is an experienced corporate advisory and transactional lawyer with an active technology and privacy practice representing companies in the energy, manufacturing, mining, retail, health and financial services sectors, as well as government and not for profit organisations. He has extensive experience advising customers and vendors in the technology industry, with particular focus on software licensing, data privacy and protection, and systems integration projects. In his role as a senior corporate lawyer, Mr. Pulham reviews organisational policies and practices regarding data privacy to identify key risks, develops and implements strategies to mitigate privacy and cybersecurity risks, and advises clients in the investigation of, and response to, data breaches.

Mr. Pulham also serves as a strategic advisor to his clients, regularly advising on large outsourcing and technology procurement matters including negotiating software licensing terms with ERP and CRM vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Salesforce, and on major systems integration transactions. He advises his clients on all facets of their technology practices, procurement and needs, including key technology procurement requirements and licensing issues (acting for both customer and service provider clients), marketing and advertising in compliance with Australian competition and consumer laws, website content and terms of use, and general commercial intellectual property and software licensing matters.

Senior Attorney

Ms. Aggromito is a senior lawyer in the lawyer in the Melbourne commercial technology and sourcing team focusing on IT, privacy and data protection.