Apps, smartphones and the demand for access to content and media anywhere and on any device has led to 71 per cent of Australians using a Cloud service, whether they know it or not, according to a study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

But although consumers are sharing digital information in online environments at an unprecedented level, for some consumers, there are concerns about the transparency of data management and privacy practices by Cloud service providers that inhibit their take-up and engagement with these services.

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Australians also have concerns about sharing personal information and there are challenges to regulation intended to protect users, it stated in its research paper, The Cloud: services, computing and digital data -- Emerging issues in media and communications, Occasional paper 3 .

It identified that 52 per cent of Australians have a low level of confidence in the privacy settings of online providers, such as Cloud service providers.

A further 35 per cent of Australians would withhold personal information where a site is not based in Australia.

ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said the burgeoning Cloud services industry in Australia will need to address a number of challenges.

"Addressing consumer and business concerns about privacy and data management practices will be important in boosting overall confidence in the use of Cloud services. This is likely to require further action from both industry and governments," he said.

For consumers using the Cloud, Chapman highlighted some important tips to remember:

  • Know and use the privacy and security settings for the Cloud service.
  • Know what the terms and conditions for use of the service are.
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly.
  • Back-up your information in more than one place.

"From a regulatory viewpoint, there is a need to reduce current regulatory complexity, while also addressing concerns about personal data protections and the ability to switch data and service providers in the Cloud," Chapman added.