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Nielsen: Over half of mobile users concerned about location privacy

New survey results from market research firm Nielsen finds that while location-aware services and applications are increasingly popular amongst consumers, half or more mobile phone users are “concerned” about the privacy implications of sharing their location with advertisers, businesses, and other third parties—even if it’s on a voluntary basis.

Overall Nielsen found that concern over location privacy varied by age. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of mobile users aged 55 and over said they were concerned about sharing location information; that figure dropped to 61 percent amongst users aged 45 to 54, 56 percent amongst users aged 35 to 44, and reaches its lowest point (50 percent) amongst users after 25 to 34. Curiously young adults and teens express more concern: 52 percent of users aged 18 to 24 said their were concerned, and 55 percent of 13 to 17 year-olds were concerned.

Nielsen mobile app privacy by age

The report also found differences between men and women: overall, 59 percent of women were concerned about sharing location information, compared to 52 percent of men.

Nielsen’s survey focused on users who had downloaded a mobile application within the previous 30 days.

The survey results come in the wake of significant publicity surrounding the iPhone and Apple’s 3G-enabled iPads keeping a log of the device’s location based on cell tower data.

Nielsen forecasts consumers will become more comfortable with sharing location information as they get more familiar with location-based applications and the benefits they offer. However, that supposition is dependent on mobile operators—as well as app developers and marketers—doing nothing to violate the trust users place in them by sharing personal information. As Facebook has discovered with social networking—and as Apple may be discovering with the location logs in its iOS devices—privacy breaches cast long shadows in consumers’ memories.