How people perceive online privacy

A new study by the National Cyber Security Alliance shows that Americans care deeply about their privacy.

While a great knowledge gap exists about how information is collected and how technologies interact, businesses can build consumer trust by being clear about data collection and use. As we become more and more reliant on technology, it is crucial to effectively educate everyone about how to be safer and more secure online.

Top online privacy concerns:

  • Americans ranked “Having personal information lost or stolen,” “Having your financial information lost or stolen” and “Not knowing what information is being collected about you or how it is being used” as top concerns.
  • 87% of individuals are either somewhat or very concerned that their information is shared with another party without their knowledge or consent.
  • Two-thirds of Americans would accept less personalized content during their online experience, including fewer discounts, in order to keep their personal information private.

Notable consumer behavior:

  • The majority of consumers report taking certain measures to protect their personal information.
  • Consumers are uninformed, in part, because they don’t understand what information is being collected about them, how it’s being used or with whom it is shared and, therefore, don’t know how to protect themselves.
  • 49% of individuals are not familiar with how or why to set their Internet browser to the “do not track” mode.

Who consumers trust:

  • The public is most comfortable with family, friends and their health insurance provider having access to their personal information.
  • Levels of trust vary greatly and health insurance providers and financial institutions are more trusted than not. Consumers were asked to rate institutions by how well they thought the institutions would responsibly handle their information on a scale from 1 to 100 ‒ 100 being most trusted.

What’s important to protect:

  • The public is least comfortable providing Social Security numbers, list of contacts and email content when asked.
  • The public is least comfortable with the following information being collected: Social Security numbers, credit card information and email content. Younger adults are more concerned about their list of contacts being shared than are middle age and older adults.
  • When asked what information is of most value to companies and third parties, respondents indicated personal photos/videos while driving habits were perceived as least valuable to companies or third parties.
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