Internet privacy attitudes shifting: report

A new study shows people are becoming wary and more cautious about Internet privacy.

Learning about privacy issues raises level of concern

A new study shows people are becoming wary and more cautious about Internet privacy.

The University of California report is based on conversations with 1,000 Americans conducted last summer by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

It found that 55 per cent of those using the Internet are more concerned about online privacy now than they were five years ago. The most important reason that people surveyed gave was that they now know more about privacy issues than they did five years ago.

Still, only 14 per cent say they often read privacy policies on websites. Thirty-six per cent said they read the policies sometimes, while 50 per cent read them rarely or not at all.

Concern cuts across age groups

The report does much to dispel suggestions that younger people don't care about privacy.  The level of concern expressed was similar among age groups.

However the study notes that those in the 18- to 24-year-old group incorrectly believe the law protects their privacy more than it does.

"This lack of knowledge in a tempting environment, rather than a cavalier lack of concern regarding  privacy, may be an important reason large numbers of [younger users] engage with the digital world in a seemingly unconcerned manner," the report states.

Among the findings:

  • 88 per cent refused to give information to a company or business because they thought it was too personal.
  • 86 per cent believe anyone uploading a picture or video of them should first receive permission.
  • 68 per cent think there should be a law that gives people the right to know everything that a website knows about them.
  • 92 per cent feel there should be a law that requires websites and advertising companies to delete all stored information on an individual.