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Despite Privacy Fears, Net Users Willing to Submit Data

September 14, 2000|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Nearly all Internet users say they are concerned about privacy online, but despite those fears nearly two-thirds of Web surfers have transmitted such highly personal information as a credit card number, a study released Wednesday said.

The study, published by the Andersen Consulting Institute for Strategic Change and the Owen School of Business at Vanderbilt University, said 95% of consumers have significant concerns about their privacy online.

But the researchers said they were surprised to find how often Internet users' actual behavior conflicted with those fears, calling it "a hidden willingness to provide information online."

Users in the survey who spend more time online were found to be more likely to provide information about themselves, the study found. However, users who expressed "little to no concern" for Internet privacy were less likely to provide details than those who were "somewhat concerned."

Those surveyed said they are less concerned about revealing medical information online than they are about personal financial details.

Only 28% of respondents were willing to provide a credit card number online, yet 62% reported that they had, at some point, done so.

Similarly, only 12% of users were willing to provide a Social Security number online, but 28% of those surveyed had in the past provided it.

The users studied were most willing to have their online movements monitored, such as usage time and the sites visited, but less willing to have activities monitored, such as downloads and purchases.

Results of the survey were compiled from 196 responses out of a sample of 4,272 online U.S. consumers.

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