58% Use Location-based Apps Despite Privacy Concerns

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill–Fifty-eight percent of consumers who have a smart device use location-based applications, despite concerns about safety and use of their personal information for marketing purposes, according to a survey from nonprofit global information security association ISACA.

“Location-based apps can be tremendously convenient, but also risky. People should educate themselves to understand how their data is being used or know how to disable this feature”

A telephone poll of 1,000 Americans shows that many people are concerned about geolocation, which uses data from a computer or mobile device to identify a physical location:

  • Top concerns include third-party use of personal information for marketing purposes (24%) and strangers knowing too much about people’s activities (24%)
  • Personal safety is the next biggest concern (21%)
  • 43% of people do not read the agreements on apps before downloading them, and of those who do read the agreements, 25% believe these agreements are not clear about how location information is being used

“Location-based apps can be tremendously convenient, but also risky. People should educate themselves to understand how their data is being used or know how to disable this feature,” said Marios Damianides, CISM, CISA, CA, CPA, past international president of ISACA and partner, Advisory Services, at Ernst & Young. “Businesses that collect location-based data have a responsibility to define an ethical governance policy and communicate it transparently.”

Applications with geolocation capabilities offer benefits such as precise navigation, location-based coupons or easy social check-ins. Nearly one-third (32%) of consumers in ISACA’s survey use location-based apps more than they did a year ago.

Location-based activities most frequently done on a smartphone, tablet or laptop are getting directions (59%), and tagging photos on social media (44%).

The next most popular activity is disabling location-based features on select apps and services (38%). According to the ISACA white paper “Geolocation: Risk, Issues and Strategies,” malicious use of geolocation data can put individuals and enterprises at risk when information like gender, race, occupation and finances is combined with geolocation tags.


ISACA advises a five-step “ROUTE” to stay informed about geolocation services:

  • Read mobile app agreements to see what information you are sharing.
  • Only enable geolocation when the benefits outweigh the risk.
  • Understand that others can track your current and past locations.
  • Think before posting tagged photos to social media sites.
  • Embrace the technology, and educate yourself and others.

For full survey results, visit www.isaca.org/geolocation.

Survey Methodology

The ISACA geolocation survey helps gauge attitudes and behaviors related to the use of geolocation-enabled devices and applications and the blurring boundaries between personal and work devices. The findings are based on a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples that, when combined, consists of 1,005 adults (505 men and 500 women), 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this ORC International’s (ORC) CARAVAN® Survey was completed on 8-11 March 2012; 755 interviews were from the landline sample and 250 interviews from the cell phone sample. At a 95 percent confidence level, the margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3 percent.


With 95,000 constituents worldwide, ISACA (www.isaca.org) is a leading global provider of knowledge, certifications, community, advocacy and education on information systems assurance and security, enterprise governance and management of IT, and IT-related risk and compliance. Founded in 1969, the nonprofit ISACA offers the CISA®, CISM®, CGEIT® and CRISC™ designations. ISACA developed COBIT 5, a business framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ISACANews

LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/ISACAOfficial

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ISACAHQ

ISACA Knowledge Center: www.isaca.org/knowledge–center


Editor (18230 Posts)

Glenn is a geographer and a GIS professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. He's the co-founder of GISuser and several other technology web publications.



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