Few Americans know about online privacy and stalking, report says
Many Americans want to control what companies can learn about them online. Yet when faced with a series of true-false questions about how digital devices and services track users, most Americans struggle to answer, according to a researcher. Report released Tuesday by the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
The report analyzed the results of a data privacy survey that included more than 2,000 adults in the United States. Few respondents said they trust the way online services handle their personal data.
The survey also tested how much people know about how apps, websites and digital devices collect and disclose information about people’s health, TV viewing habits and doorbell camera video. While many people understand how companies track their email and website visits, most seem unaware that there are limited federal protections for the personal data online services can collect about consumers.
Seventy-seven percent of participants answered 9 or fewer of the 17 true-false questions correctly, equivalent to an F grade, the report said. Only one person received an A grade for answering 16 questions correctly. No one got all of them right.
Americans struggle to answer questions about online tracking practices and privacy policies
Researchers at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania asked 2,014 people in the United States a series of true-false questions.The correct answer is in bold.
Most people correctly understand some of the ways companies can track their activities online…
…but it is often misunderstood that the federal government has a limited role in regulating online stalking practices.
Findings expose serious knowledge gaps among Americans as the FTC prepares to curb corporate online consumer tracking — or, as the regulator puts it, “commercial monitoringThe report is likely to strengthen the regulator’s agenda as it highlights weaknesses in the framework that has underpinned U.S. online privacy regulation for decades.
This long-standing method is known as “notice and consent.” It generally allows online services the freedom to collect, use, retain, share and sell vast amounts of detailed information about individual consumers — as long as companies first inform users of their data practices and obtain their consent.
True “consent requires people to understand commercial data extraction practices and believe they can do something about them,” the Annenberg School report said. “Americans have neither.”
Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents said they have “little control over what marketers” can learn about them online, while 73% said they “haven’t had the time to keep up with how they control their company’s information.”
“The big takeaway here is that the consent is broken, totally broken,” Joseph Touro The report’s lead author, a professor of media studies at the University of Pennsylvania, said in an interview. “The general idea that consent, whether implicit or explicit, is the solution to the problem of massive data collection is simply wrong — that’s the bottom line.”
Some prominent regulators agree with this.
“When faced with technologies that are increasingly central to modern life, users often lack a genuine set of alternatives and cannot reasonably abstain from using these tools,” said FTC Chairman Lina M. Khan. ” in speech last year.
In the talk, Ms Khan proposed a “new paradigm” that could impose “substantial limits” on consumer tracking.
Leigh Freund, chief executive of the Network Advertising Initiative, a digital advertising industry group, said that while the “notice and consent” approach “is outdated in many respects” it can still be a useful tool “in contrast to concerns over data collection and use.” Reasonable restrictions, especially when it comes to sensitive data.”
She added that her trade group support current efforts Pass a sweeping federal consumer privacy law in Congress that would impose meaningful limits on data use “while protecting the benefits of data-driven advertising to consumers, small businesses, and the economy.”
Americans want control of their data, but don’t trust companies
Researchers at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania asked 2,014 Americans how they felt about having control over their personal data and the privacy trade-offs consumers face online.
The findings challenge a data-for-service trade-off thesis long used by the tech industry to justify consumer tracking and deter governments from restricting it: Consumers have free access to many convenient digital tools — As long as they agree to allow apps, websites, ad tech and marketing analytics companies to track their online activity and use their personal information.
But new reports suggest many Americans aren’t buying it.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they felt it was unfair that a store could monitor their online activity if they were logged into a retailer’s Wi-Fi. 61% said they found it unacceptable for a store to use their personal information to improve the service they received from the store.
Only a small minority (18%) say they don’t care what companies learn about them online.