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Almost 90 percent of Internet users have taken steps to avoid surveillance, survey finds

Loek Essers | Sept. 5, 2013
Hackers, criminals and advertisers are at the top of the list of groups people wish to avoid, the survey showed.

Most U.S. citizens would like to be anonymous and untracked online, at least every once in a while, but many think it is not possible to be completely anonymous online, Pew said. "This reinforces the notion that privacy is not an all-or-nothing proposition for internet users. People choose different strategies for different activities, for different content, to mask themselves from different people, at different times in their lives," the researchers wrote.

One of the most revealing contradictions in the results of the survey is that those who have taken steps to try to avoid observation by others and those who have taken more general steps to be anonymous are more likely than others to have personal information posted online, the researchers said.

Internet users surveyed said they have a photo of themselves online (66 percent), while about half of those polled said their birth date was available online. A minority said that their email address, home address, mobile number or political affiliation was available.

A majority of Web users polled, 66 percent, said they think current privacy laws are not good enough to provide reasonable protections for people's privacy on their online activities.

"Interestingly, there are not noteworthy differences in answers to this question associated with political or partisan points of view. Tea Party supporters, conservative Republicans, self-described moderates, and liberal Democrats are not statistically significantly different in their answers," the researchers wrote.

 

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