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Millennials Get Big Data: Survey

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10/15/2014
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BRUSSELS -- The Millennial generation is happy to embrace the concept of Big Data – with three quarters saying they fully understand the types of information and data that companies collect and share about them – a new global study has revealed. And nearly 80 per cent of young adults aged 18-30 feel in control of their personal online data, according to the findings of a Telefónica-commissioned survey of 6,700 Millennials across 18 countries.

While this generation is confident online – 85 per cent believing they are on the cutting edge of technology – young digital natives did express concerns about digital privacy and security. The Telefónica study found that eight out of 10 Millennials are worried about getting hacked or someone stealing their information online, and nearly 90 per cent are taking active steps to protect themselves online.

The findings of the Global Millennial Survey – announced today in Brussels at the European Voice ‘Data: the New Currency?’ summit – led to calls for European policy makers to create an environment that will help extend the levels of confidence demonstrated by Millennials to every generation in Europe.

“We all agree that data is the lifeblood of digital technologies. It is therefore vital that the reform of the legal framework for data protection results in a trusted digital environment,” said Dr Richard Benjamins, Telefónica's Group Director of Big Data. “Policy makers should take a risk-based approach which considers not only how data is collected but also how it is used. They should aim to protect people first, rather than data, and must prevent the use of data in ways that might negatively impact individual people’s lives.”

Dr Benjamins added: “Proper mechanisms need to be in place to effectively evaluate risks to individuals and ensure that people have control over how their data is being used – mechanisms that will build far more confidence than unread terms and conditions or check-box consent. Gaining the public’s trust and confidence must be the prime focus of the data protection legal framework reforms – which will be pivotal in opening the door to a European digital economy that is innovative, competitive and successful.”

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, said: “I am a digital and data optimist. The internet lets us share and combine in exciting new ways. The rise of Big Data gives us the chance to see patterns and solve problems that were previously unsolvable. While data controllers should not have a blank cheque, we can’t overlook the opportunities. Our shared responsibility is to ensure internet users get education and clear information and rights to make the most of this new data environment.”

Telefónica identified three key areas of focus for the incoming Commission to create a top-class Internet infrastructure for Europe. An open data ecosystem, better data protection rules which apply to all services in the same way and safe data sharing mechanisms beyond Europe’s borders will be crucial to boost the bloc’s data economy. To build digital confidence actions are required on data transparency and digital literacy. And to deliver an open digital experience, Europe needs rules that enable consumers to have a portable digital life to give them the possibility to switch easily between devices and platforms while taking their applications, music and data with them.

Among initiatives being undertaken by Telefónica to realise an open and safe internet for all include:

  • As part of its global commitment to digital literacy and skills, Telefónica is playing a significant role in EU Code Week, during which millions of children, parents, teachers, entrepreneurs and policy makers are coming together at events focused on programming and related skills. Telefónica is staging sessions this week in various locations in Spain, Germany and the UK to further raise awareness around digital skills and contribute to European wide movement.

  • Telefónica will bring the expertise of Wayra, its start-up accelerator, to the formation of a new European partnership to develop an open data ecosystem. With €7 million funding from the European Commission – and supported by NGOs, educational institutions, ICT industry bodies and media organisations – the project will create a start-up incubator for companies working with open data in Europe and aims to support and fund 50-100 new open data businesses.

  • Telefonica’s Lab in Barcelona over the last few years conducted several research projects into the development of tools that shed light on the flow and usage of consumer data online, empowering people to have more control of their data. Telefonica will continue working together with universities and other businesses to make use of data more transparent.

    Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)

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