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BizReport : Research archives : September 26, 2008

Americans want more control over their online personal information

Americans are concerned about how their personal information is being used online and the tracking of their online behavior, according to a poll from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Yet, despite the concern, very few appear to have armed themselves with the facts about the rules governing the practices.

by Helen Leggatt

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans polled for Consumer Reports’ latest research said they were concerned at the idea that their online behavior is tracked. Over half (53%) were similarly uncomfortable with the practice of email and browsing histories being used to target advertising.

Consumers want more control over what information is provided and who is allowed to use it. A massive 93% of those polled believe Internet companies should always ask permission before using personal data and nearly three-quarters want the ability to opt-out of being tracked online.

“Americans are clearly concerned with how their personal information is being collected and used by Internet companies,” said Joel Kelsey, policy analyst with Consumers Union.

“The vast majority of consumers want more control over their personal information online and want the ability to stop Internet companies from tracking and profiling them.”

Despite their concerns, very few Americans appear to have a handle on the rules governing the practices of tracking and data collection:

- 61% incorrectly believe that what they do online is private and not shared without their permission.

- 57% incorrectly believe that companies must identify themselves, their reason for data collection and with whom they intend to share the data.

- 48% incorrectly believe their permission is required before companies can use personal data they collect online.

- 43% incorrectly believe a court order is required to monitor a person’s Internet activity.

Tags: data collection, online privacy, online tracking

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