Knowledge, Behavior, and Opinions Regarding Online Privacy
34 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2014 Last revised: 23 Aug 2014
When it comes to online privacy, what do people know, what do people do, and what do people want? To find out, we conducted a two-part online survey, eventually collecting complete surveys from about 500 respondents on each part. One part of the survey focused on opinions relating to privacy and the Internet, and the second part of the survey focused on the knowledge of the respondents. Topics ranged from targeted advertising, to online security, to constitutional privacy protections.
Finding out what people know, do, and want online will help us to suggest ways to ensure that consumer decisions online are guided by informed consent. For us, informed consent must include awareness of the ways that service providers use consumer data, which is often covered in terms of service and privacy policies. We believe that informed consent will strengthen the market for cloud services and increase how much consumers trust these services. However, comprehension is essential for informed consent, so obtaining informed consent online will be difficult if comprehension of agreements with providers is low. Our survey results indicate that very few people read terms of service or privacy policies, and it is difficult to have comprehension of documents that you do not read.
The results of our survey suggest that there are specific areas that policy makers and industry members can emphasize to increase trust of the government on privacy matters, increase consumer engagement, enhance the presence of informed consent online, and support further development of the market for cloud services. To facilitate the achievement of these goals, the current deficiencies in consumer knowledge should be addressed. We recommend the development of an electronic privacy agent that would consider not only what people want in terms of privacy online, but also what they know. Our proposal, termed Knowledge-based Individualized Privacy Plans (KIPPs), is in the beginning stages of development, but we believe that it has the potential to mitigate the informational asymmetry that currently exists between consumers and businesses online.
Keywords: Internet, privacy, privacy law, informed consent
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