People are concerned about online privacy — until you offer them something for free.
Fifty-five percent of Americans would hand over personal info for free access to online services, according to a new Pew Research Center report. When a free app offers a benefit — nearby discounts, personalized driving directions, a mindless game — it's tempting to give up a few seemingly innocent personal details. Until you start thinking about how much of your personal data are floating around.
"We're all ignoring things, yet at the same time our concern level is increasing," said Kate Bolseth, CEO of local tech company Jingit, speaking to the audience at MobCon, a recent Minneapolis conference for people who work in mobile technology.
In its survey of 607 people, Pew found:
• There's "a universal lack of confidence among adults in the security of everyday communications channels," especially the digital ones. Land lines were perceived to be most secure, social media the least.
• Ninety-one percent of Americans feel that consumers have lost control of the information that companies collect about them. Eighty-eight percent "agree" or "strongly agree" that inaccurate information would be very difficult to remove.
• Eighty percent "agree" or "strongly agree" that Americans should be concerned about government surveillance of phone calls and Internet communications.
• While 61 percent would like to do more to protect their privacy, just 24 percent "agree" or "strongly agree" that it's easy to be anonymous online.
Pew also ranked people's perception of what personal info is most sensitive. People were most protective of their Social Security numbers. The content of conversations (phone, e-mail, text messages) also were deemed sensitive. Basic purchasing habits came in last.
As the report says, "At the same time that Americans express these broad sensitivities toward various kinds of information, they are actively engaged in negotiating the benefits and risks of sharing this data in their daily interactions with friends, family, co-workers, businesses and government."