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Security and Privacy Issues

Overview

  • Security remains an underlying concern for those who contact government by internet.
  • Over half (57%) of those who had used the internet to contact government would prefer to re-enter their personal information each time they use a website rather than have their details stored by the agency.
  • The same proportion (57%) prefers complete anonymity to a personalised interface when contacting government.
  • These attitudes are consistent with previous studies.
  • Despite this preference towards anonymity, two-thirds (68%) would still prefer the convenience of updating information (such as change of address) for government only once, and have government advise other agencies of these changes. This is slightly lower compared with 2007 (73%) and 2006 (72%).
  • The majority (85%) of people contacting government by internet would prefer a high level of security and a longer transaction time to a faster but less secure transaction.

8.1 Introduction

People who had used the internet to contact government in the previous twelve months were asked general questions about their willingness to provide personal information to government using the internet. Questions asked in previous years about willingness to provide credit card and bank account details were not asked in 2008.

8.2 Anonymity and Convenience

There is a slight preference for anonymity over convenience. Over half (57%) of those who had contacted government using the internet at least once in the previous twelve months, would prefer the anonymity of re-entering their personal information each time they use a website rather than have it stored by a government agency for use on their next contact. Two in five (38%) would prefer the agency to store their personal information for use next time.

These attitudes have fluctuated slightly over the four studies, with preference for anonymity ranging from 50% of people in 2004–05 to 55% in 2006 to 52% in 2007 and 57% in 2008.

Figure 69 Preference between re-entering information and agency storing the details

Figure 69 Preference between re-entering information and agency storing the details. Text description below.
Text description of Figure 69 Preference between re-entering information and agency storing the details

Q18A: When accessing government services over the internet, would you generally prefer: having to re-enter your personal information each time you go back to a website; or the agency storing your information for next time you go to that website?
Base: Respondents who used the internet in last 12 months to contact government (n=2295)
Note 1: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding of decimals.
Note 2: Question wording varied slightly in 2004–05, 2006 and 2007, then remained unchanged in 2008.

8.3 Anonymity and Tailored Services

There is also a slight preference for anonymity over a personalised interface among those who had contacted government by internet in the previous twelve months. Just over half (57%) would prefer to remain anonymous, while only a third (36%) would be willing to provide information to enable the interface with the government agency to be customised for them.

These attitudes have fluctuated slightly since 2004–05, with preference for anonymity ranging from 50% of people in 2004–05 to 59% in 2006 to 54% in 2007 and 57% in 2008.

Figure 70 Preference between personalised services and anonymity

Figure 70 Preference between personalised services and anonymity. Text description below.
Text description of Figure 70 Preference between personalised services and anonymity

Q18B When dealing with government services over the internet, would you generally prefer: providing information which could be used to help customise or personalise what you are able to see or do; or remaining completely anonymous?
Base: Respondents who used the internet in last 12 months to contact government (n=2295)
Note 1: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding of decimals.

Note 2: Question wording varied slightly in 2004–05, 2006 and 2007, then remained unchanged in 2008.

8.4 Updating Information

Although remaining anonymous is important, the convenience of only having to update personal information, such as change of address, on a website once rather than having to notify multiple agencies of the change is preferred. Two-thirds (68%) of those who contacted government by internet in the previous twelve months indicated they would prefer updating details once compared with only three in ten (29%) preferring to notify each agency personally.

The proportion of people who contacted government by internet in the previous twelve months who indicated they would prefer to update their details only once was slightly lower this year (68%) than in 2007 (73%) and 2006 (72%).

Figure 71 Preference between telling government once and advising agencies separately

Figure 71 Preference between telling government once and advising agencies separately. Text description below.
Text description of Figure 71 Preference between telling government once and advising agencies separately

Q18D When updating personal information such as a change of address on government websites, would you generally prefer: telling the government only once; or you advising each agency yourself?
Base: Respondents who used the internet in last 12 months to contact government (n=2295)
Note 1: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding of decimals.
Note 2: Question wording varied slightly in 2004–05, 2006 and 2007, then remained unchanged in 2008.

8.5 Security and Ease and Speed of Access

There is an overwhelming preference for a high level of security, albeit with a slower transaction time, than for faster and easier transactions with less security. The majority (85%) of those who used the internet to contact government expressed this view, an attitude consistent with 2007 (84%), 2006 (82%) and 2004–05 (77%).

Females (89%) are more likely than males (81%) to prefer higher security with slower transactions.

In 2008, age has also become a factor in preferences for level of security and ease and speed of access. A larger proportion (81% to 89%) of the younger age groups prioritise security over ease and speed compared with those over 65 (72%). Age and gender were not factors in 2007.

Figure 72 Preference for security over ease of use

Figure 72 - Preference for security over ease of use. Text description below.
Text description of Figure 72 Preference for security over ease of use

Q18E When accessing government services over the internet, would you generally prefer: a higher level of security that adds time to transactions; or a lower level of security that is faster and easier to complete?
Base: Respondents who used the internet in last 12 months to contact government (n=2295)
Note 1: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding of decimals.


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Last Modified: 18 December, 2008