Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

Internet users in Middle East willing to compromise on privacy for better services

A poll of 15,000 people in 15 countries found 32 per cent of users in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – grouped as the Middle East – said they would trade privacy for services.

DUBAI // Internet users in the Middle East are more willing to compromise online security for greater convenience than almost anywhere else in the world, a survey has found.

A poll of 15,000 people in 15 countries found 32 per cent of users in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – grouped as the Middle East – said they would trade privacy for services.

“In the Middle East we see emerging, high-grossing countries who are more hungry to get to know things and access things,” said Mohammed Amin, senior vice president at EMC, the corporation that conducted the study.

“We want to be part of the revolution going forward in business and information access. So I believe we are more relaxed to trade our privacy for more access.”

The study also found that people in the Middle East have more confidence in their governments to protect their information.

“More people in this region believe, rightly or wrongly, that their governments are protecting their data,” Mr Amin said.

“Rightly or wrongly because no one really knows. It depends on their infrastructure and investment.

“But we have a feeling in the Middle East somehow that someone is protecting us.”

Only 71 per cent of respondents in the region believe there should be laws to ban companies buying and selling details without giving users the chance to consent, rather than opt out.

That figure is far behind the global average of 87 per cent and the lowest of the 15 countries surveyed.

The study said 70 per cent of Middle East respondents believed online privacy would be harder to maintain in the next five years. But Mr Amin said this did not have to be the case if enough cooperation were achieved.

“In five years we will see more concern on privacy definitely,” he said. “I believe that governments and countries will keep educating people about this and I honestly believe things will get better.

“If the right governments and stakeholders get together more, things will improve.”

A common problem globally was internet users not reading privacy statements, with 35 per cent of Middle East residents saying they were unlikely to read them.

Mr Amin said this should be addressed by service providers with simple, readable terms.

“It should not be a five or six pages of complex legal terms, because even if you read it you won’t get anything out of it and won’t understand any of it,” he said.

“I want to see one page that the average educated person can understand and understand his or her rights before they tick agree. That way, if someone agrees then it is their responsibility.”

The UAE has been introducing measures for an increasingly connected society, through mGovernment and Smart Government initiatives.

ksinclair@thenational.ae

Updated: June 23, 2014 04:00 AM

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