Consumer Online Privacy Survey


Consumer Awareness and Education Important to Protecting Privacy Online

In our increasingly tech dominated world, Internet users spanning every generation are turning to the Internet to communicate, socialize, pay bills and manage everyday affairs at an exponential rate while creating—often unknowingly—very detailed profiles of themselves with every click of a key.

A recent Consumer Policy Solutions survey, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, studied consumers’ awareness and perceptions about their privacy online, particularly as it relates to their knowledge of how their behaviors on the Internet can affect their privacy.

Many consumers are not fully aware of the implications of their online activity and the “virtual breadcrumbs” they inadvertently leave behind when roaming the Internet. This survey is intended to raise awareness to give consumers the knowledge and tools needed for the privacy they desire online.

The survey results indicate an opportunity to further educate consumers about online privacy.

Among the key findings:

Consumers think they are knowledgeable about online privacy, but many are unaware of how their activity and behaviors can be followed and collected online.

  • 70% of Internet users say they are very or fairly knowledgeable about how to protect their personal privacy online
  • 42% are unsure whether their online activity is tracked and recorded by companies for commercial purposes
  • 12% believe that tracking by companies for commercial purposes does not happen at all

Consumers do not always read privacy policies.

  • 32% say they have read their ISP privacy policy closely
  • 30% have read online retailers’ privacy policies closely
  • 18% have read search engine privacy policies closely

Parents know less than they think about their children’s privacy online when it comes to sites tracking their children’s online activity.

  • 69% of parents say they are very or fairly knowledgeable about how to protect their children’s privacy online, but 29% are not even sure whether the websites their children use have privacy policies. Just 31% have read the privacy policies of the websites their children visit closely
  • 56% are unsure whether children’s online activity can be tracked by companies for commercial purposes.

From November 10 through 14, 2008, Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., conducted this online national survey among 804 home Internet users.

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