Data breaches seen as number one privacy concern: OAIC

There has been a sharp increase in the number of Australians who feel data breaches are the biggest privacy risk they face today, according to a survey released by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

The Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS) 2023 provides a comprehensive view of Australians’ privacy attitudes and experiences and how recent events have impacted them.

The survey tested attitudes on topics such as data practices, privacy legislation, data breaches, biometrics, artificial intelligence and children’s privacy.

“Our survey shows privacy is a significant concern for Australians, especially in areas that have seen recent developments like artificial intelligence and biometrics,” said Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk.

“Australians see data breaches as the biggest privacy risk today, which is not surprising with almost half of those surveyed saying they were affected by a data breach in the prior year.

“There is a strong desire for organisations to do more to advance privacy rights, including minimising the amount of information they collect, taking extra steps to protect it and deleting it when no longer required.”

Among the key themes of the survey are:

  • Australians care about their privacy. Nine in 10 Australians have a clear understanding of why they should protect their personal information, and 62% see the protection of their personal information as a major concern in their life.
  • Australians don’t feel in control of their privacy and don’t know what to do about it. Only 32% feel in control of their privacy, and half believe if they want to use a service, they have no choice but to accept what the service does with their data. Three in five care about their data privacy, but don’t know what to do about it.
  • Most Australians have had a negative privacy experience. Forty-seven per cent were told by an organisation that their personal information was involved in a data breach in the year prior, and three-quarters said they experienced harm because of a data breach.
  • Australians have strong feelings about certain data practices. Nine in 10 are concerned about organisations sending customers’ information overseas. Ninety‑six per cent want conditions in place before artificial intelligence is used to make decisions that might affect them.
  • There are high levels of distrust. Only four sectors (health, federal government, finance and education) are more trusted than not by Australians to handle their personal information. Less than half of people trust organisations to only collect the information they need, use and share information as they say they will, store information securely, give individuals access to their information and delete information when no longer needed.
  • Australians want more to be done to protect privacy. Eighty‑four per cent want more control and choice over the collection and use of their information. Around nine in 10 Australians would like businesses and government agencies to do more to protect their personal information.

Commissioner Falk said the survey has important signposts for organisations.

“The findings point to several areas where organisations can do more to build trust in the community,” she said.

“Not only is good privacy practice the right thing to do and what the community expects, it’s a precondition for the success of innovations that rely on personal information.”

The survey findings also show there is strong support for privacy law reform.

“We are at a pivotal moment for privacy in Australia, where we can seize the opportunity to ensure laws and practices uphold our fundamental human right to privacy,” Commissioner Falk said.

“This is an opportunity to ensure the protections the community expects are reflected in the law.

“The OAIC will use the findings to inform our ongoing input into the review of the Privacy Act and to target our activities at areas of high concern among the community.”

The OAIC commissioned Lonergan Research to undertake ACAPS 2023. The survey was conducted in March 2023 with a nationally representative sample of 1,916 unique respondents aged 18 and older.

To read the full report, visit