Online privacy: railing against the accepted

A Pew Internet survey shows that more Internet users now accept Big Brother at work and think that information about them on the Internet is accurate

I frequently use this column to rail against threats to the privacy of Internet users, both from government and the private sector. I just found a survey published late last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that reports that people are coming to support, or at last not object too strongly to, some types of spying.

The report is titled "Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency." The summary of the findings section of the report includes the survey results that 60 per cent of Internet users (or at least the survey respondents) find information about themselves online, 60 per cent (maybe not the same 60 per cent) are not concerned with the amount of information out there and half of teens and a much smaller percentage of adults have posted profiles to Internet social sites (most teens do restrict access to their profile in some way). But, to me some of the more interesting results did not make it into the summary.

I found the section on "The Changing Nature of Personal Information" a bit surprising and somewhat depressing. For example, a 1994 Harris Interactive survey found that 65 per cent of Americans said it was "extremely important" that they not be monitored at work; the current survey, using a similar question, finds that this has dropped to 28 per cent. At the same time another Pew survey found that 85 per cent of adults feel that it is "very important" that they be able to control who will get information about them, and almost 60 per cent have refused to provide some information when they thought that it was not needed or was too personal. The report has a good discussion of the kind of digital footprints each of us leave behind as we wander through the Internet. But the discussion misses the vast database that Google, Yahoo etc have on each of us and only focuses on the info that pops up when you do a Google search. People seem willing to let their boss watch over their shoulder and do not notice (or at least Pew did not ask about) the data Google et al are compiling about our every whim, yet people feel it's important to have a sense of control. A mixed message at best.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scott Bradner

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

TerraCycle Zero Waste Box Pens and Markers Small

Learn more >

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?