The Data Confidence Index, 2019: How confident people around the world are that they can protect their privacy

Back in 2019, the Datum Future and GlobalWebindex released a study, The Data Confidence Index. This study is as relevant today as when it was released. According to Catherine Mayer of Datum Future, with this study, they set out to explore the differences between people’s privacy attitudes and their privacy protection behaviors.

The Data Confidence Index is a measure of expressed privacy concerns against online privacy behaviours

When calculating the data confidence index, the researchers assessed people’s attitudes toward data usage and safety across three privacy concerns: 1) concerns related to how companies use data, 2) concerns about the Internet eroding privacy, and 3) the desire for anonymity online. The authors then indexed these privacy concerns against five privacy protection behaviors, 1) deleting cookies, 2) using a private browser, 3) using an ad-blocker, and 4) VPN use to stay anonymous online and for hiding browser activity.

The Findings

The following figure shows the index across 41 countries with 0 representing the people with the most confidence in their ability to engage in privacy protecting-behaviors that are in line with their privacy concerns, and 2.0 representing those with the least confidence to do so; the study suggests that the Taiwanese are the least confident and the Swedes are the most confident about their data.


This is a valuable study. It helps us better understand people’s privacy concerns in relation to their behaviors, and it can be useful for understanding market personas and for targeting specific countries with privacy-enhancing technologies.

Study limitations

The study, however, does have its limitations. The authors point out that individual cultures, demographics, and experiences influence people’s privacy attitudes and behaviors. Moreover, attitudes towards privacy and related behaviors are impacted by a country’s collectivist or individualist orientation, with individualist cultures expecting individuals to take more responsibility for themselves, while collectivist cultures look to society, e.g. government, to do so. In addition, the level of Internet penetration in a country and the extent to which digital behaviors are more tightly aligned to social and media behaviors vs. lifestyle activities, like communications and paying the bills, are important to consider. All these factors may play a role in privacy attitudes and behaviors but are not taken into consideration by the researchers in this study.

Other privacy protection behaviors to consider

In addition to the limitations above, I’d like to add one of my own. The study only looks at five privacy protection behaviors; however, there are many other considerations and behaviors that users can and should engage in if they truly want to take control of their data and privacy.

A summary of just a few of the leading privacy-protecting behaviors, including those above, are,

  • Using an independent cross-platform password manager, and most importantly not reusing usernames and passwords across accounts, or sharing passwords
  • Sharing an alias name, provide false data, when appropriate
  • Limit information sharing on social media and in other apps
  • Employing an identity aliasing tools, such as email, credit card, and phone number aliasing solution
  • Installing a tracker manager (aka ad-blocker)
  • Turning on and using MFA (multi-factor authentication) on accounts
  • Activating and keeping current anti-virus on computers and mobile devices: block viruses, malware, ransomware, phishing
  • Installing and using anti-keylogger software on your computer
  • Installation and using Webcam blocker software, or take the easier route and put on and use a webam cover
  • Private, “safe”, browser (NOT incognito mode)
  • Enabling mobile SIM card protection with a PIN code
  • Installing and keeping current an Internet network monitoring solution
  • Using a VPN whenever connected to a public WiFi network
  • Monitoring credit scores and accounts
  • Subscribing to a darknet monitoring service
  • Using services like Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Communicating through encrypted messaging or email apps
  • Having identity insurance and access to fraud restoration services
  • Enacting regulatory rights and asking companies for a copy of their data
  • Being wary of phishing and other common fraud, never giving out sensitive information
  • Reading terms & conditions and privacy policies before signing up for a service or downloading and installing apps
  • Use anonymous payment methods
  • Delete or cancel unused social media and other accounts
  • Cancel or don’t go through with a transaction if the site or vendor does not “feel” trustworthy
  • Change default privacy settings on a device or application
  • Validate tax information on file at
  • Keeping an eye out for the emergence of personal information management solutions (more on this later in future articles)

These are just a handful of the many behaviors that people can engage in to safely and securely navigate the Internet and build their data confidence and peace-of-mind.

In summary, there is so much more we can do. When looking at the data confidence index, only 2 of 41 countries are generally confident the vast majority of people of moderate to high concerns.

Study Methodology

The study is based on GlobalWebIndex’s data from the Q1 – Q4 2018 research waves among a sample of 391,130 internet users aged 16 – 64 across 41 markets in which GlobalWebIndex tracks online privacy behaviors.


The Data Confidence Index Report (p. 1~35). (2019). Datum Future.

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