Report: Almost 90 Percent Concerned About Online Privacy & Trying To Avoid Advertisers

privacy-security-online-computerA new survey based report from the Pew Research Center has some interesting and eye-opening findings about online privacy. Among them, the survey finds that 86 percent of US internet users “have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints” using a variety of methods.

Part of the survey dealt with online security and identity theft, which I won’t go into here.

Despite their efforts the majority of respondents (59 percent) now believe it’s not possible to be completely anonymous online. And 68 percent said that the current legal framework is not sufficient to protect online privacy.

Concern Over Email Privacy, Location

The following chart indicates the level of sensitivity people expressed in the survey about different categories of information. It’s worth pointing out that location was a very or somewhat important item for 70 percent of respondents. Search and web histories weren’t far behind.

Pew location privacy

Clearing Cookies & Browser History For Protection

The chart immediately below reflects the various methods and techniques people have used to erase their “digital footprints” or otherwise maintain privacy or anonymity online. Striking to me were the findings that a majority had cleared cookies and browser histories or disabled cookies. Also significant was the fact that a substantial minority (36 percent) said they had not used a website because it requested their real identity.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 6.14.52 AM

Avoiding Advertisers, Just After Hackers & Criminals

Finally, who are these respondents trying to avoid? After “hackers and criminals” a significant minority are actively trying to avoid “advertisers.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 6.14.36 AM

In general the survey shows an adult population that is highly aware of online privacy (and security) issues and taking action to try and create greater anonymity in various situations. They also believe that the government needs to step in and strengthen online privacy protections. That will be one of the major “takeaways” from this survey.

Many startup executives are paternalistic and condescending when it comes to discussing user privacy. The findings of this survey should cause them to rethink many of their assumptions.

See also our related story out of today’s report, Search Privacy Low On List Of Privacy Concerns For US Internet Users

Related Articles

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Features & Analysis | Legal: Privacy | Statistics: Online Behavior | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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