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The following report contains an analysis of the data gathered from a survey on geodata sharing awareness and practices of 287 Australian smartphone users. The survey was conducted as part of the ‘Digital media, location awareness, and the politics of geodata’ project, funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Projects scheme (DP180100174). This project critically examines the increasingly pervasive role of location metadata (or geodata) in Australian smartphone practices and cultures. With near-ubiquitous levels of smartphone use in Australia, digital media have become integrated within everyday lives. These services, however, rely on access to an individual’s location, raising privacy and cybersecurity concerns over this sensitive datapoint.

The survey investigates the perceived impact that this technology has on Australian smartphone users and how they balance convenience and privacy in their everyday choices over granting apps access to their location. The primary aim of the survey was to gather findings that can ultimately help inform the development of online and open resources to enhance public understanding of geodata and geoprivacy. The survey findings also aim to contribute to industry and public policy recommendations that address the crucial issue of ‘location awareness’ in everyday digital media use.

Key findings:

  1. Navigation, transport, and social connection are key drivers for the use of location-based apps and services.
  2. Smartphone users are concerned about the privacy implications of smartphone apps collecting and tracking their location.
  3. Despite their concerns about location tracking, smartphone users value an app’s usefulness over their feelings of control, privacy, and trust.
  4. Although usefulness is considered more important than control, privacy, and trust in the decision to grant location permission to smartphone apps, there are key personal risks that are considered to override usefulness.
  5. Smartphone users feel there is a need for more user awareness of the implications of location-sharing, as well as greater emphasis put on service providers (e.g., app developers and mobile operating systems) and even regulators to mitigate against privacy risks in location-sharing.
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