Trends

ERGO Risk Report: Germans have a positive view on digitalisation

How do Germans feel about artificial intelligence? What do they think of a social credit system awarding points for good behaviour? And: how much would individuals be willing to pay for their data security? For //next, we took a closer look at the findings of the new ERGO Risk Report in terms of digitalisation.

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Benefits of digitalisation in everyday life

Germans see numerous advantages and simplifications for their everyday lives in digitalisation. In particular, easy access to information on the internet (66 percent), online shopping (60 percent), online banking (59 percent) and digital communication with friends and family (50 percent) are high on the list.

In the work-related area (new digital professions, telecommuting, digital job search, etc.), the younger age groups in particular appreciate the benefits of digital progress, especially the 18-30 year-olds (46 percent, average: 25 percent). The situation is similar in the area of health and sports (fitness trackers, running apps, etc.). Here, too, young people perceive the greatest advantages (18-30-year-olds: 27 percent, average: 18 percent).

Worries about data misuse and hacker attacks

Germans are most concerned about possible online identity theft (53 per cent), the consequences of hacker attacks (49 per cent) and the loss of personal data (44 per cent). There are also growing concerns about bullying on the internet or in social media (34 percent).

Surprisingly few Germans (7 percent of professionals) fear that their own jobs will be endangered by the digital transformation. This value has even slightly decreased in the course of time.

“Social credit system”: surprisingly many supporters

A surprising result came from the question “Would you like to see a state social credit system introduced in Germany?” Authoritarian states in particular use such systems based on digital data to control the behaviour of their citizens. In doing so, "good behaviour" is rewarded and undesirable behaviour is punished (e.g. through the withdrawal of privileges). Such a system exists in China, for example.

Those who believe that such a state monitoring system would have no chance in Germany are mistaken: at least one in five respondents to the Risk Report would like such a points system. The proportion of Germans who reject such a system has fallen from 68 to 64 percent since the last survey in 2019. By the way, Bavaria is the first German county that plans to introduce a basic version with a bonus system for climate friendly behaviour. 

No willingness to pay for data protection

Social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram collect data from their users and finance the free platform offering by selling the data. In view of the concerns about identity theft, hacker attacks or the loss of personal data, one might perhaps expect that many users would be willing to pay for the services of social media and platforms rather with money in order to protect their data. However, a full 72 percent of Germans are not prepared to pay even a single euro for the protection of their data.

Conclusion

The ERGO Risk Report shows that Germans consider digitalisation to be more of an “encourager” than a “scaremonger”. Many things are experienced as a relief and improvement in everyday life and are gladly used. At the same time, they are aware of the dangers of digitalisation. However, when it comes to their own behaviour in the digital world, Germans are far too carefree and are not willing to change their personal habits. 

The complete study (in German) is available at www.risikoreport.de.

Die deutsche Version dieses Textes gibt es hier: ERGO Risiko-Report: Deutsche bewerten Digitalisierung positiv