Privacy in the Digital Age


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Privacy in the Digital Age Lee Rainie (@lrainie) Director, Internet, Science, and Technology Research Pew Research Center 6.3.15 WAN-IFRA – World Media Policy Forum


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Background Surveys of U.S. adults – post-Snowden Privacy issues are jumbled together in people’s heads and don’t unpack easily: Sur-veillance Sous-veillance Co-veillance


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The balance of forces has shifted in the networked age. People are now “public by default and private by effort.” -- danah boyd


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Personal information online % of adult internet users who say this information about them is available online


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Who users try to avoid % of adult internet users who say they have used the internet in ways to avoid being observed or seen by …


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2. Privacy is not binary / context matters


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3. Personal control / agency matters


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4. Most accept that certain trade-offs are part of the bargain


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55% “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement: “I am willing to share some information about myself with companies in order to use online services for free.”


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5. The young are more focused on networked privacy than their elders


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Those ages 18-29 are more likely than older adults to say: They take steps to limit the amount of personal information available about them online—44% of young adult internet users say this. They change privacy settings – 71% of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online. They delete unwanted comments – 47% social networking users ages 18-29 have deleted comments that others have made on their profile. They remove their name from photos – 41% of social networking users ages 18-29 say they have removed their name from photos that were tagged to identify them.


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Young adults are the most likely to have had major problems with personal information and identity


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6. Many know they do not know what is going on …. Those who know the most are more worried and wary


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7. Many are resigned – some are even hopeless – and their trust is fading


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How confident are you that your records at these places will remain private and secure?


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Changes in laws would help 8. Changes in law could make a difference


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68% of internet users believe current laws are not good enough in protecting people’s privacy online. 64% believe the government should do more to regulate advertisers, compared with 34% who think the government should not get more involved.


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When asked if they feel as though their own efforts to protect the privacy of their personal information online are sufficient, 61% say they feel as though they “would like to do more,” while 37% say they “already do enough.” 88% of adults “agree” (49%) or “strongly agree” (39%) that it would be very difficult to remove inaccurate information about them online. 


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Thank you! Lee Rainie [email protected] @lrainie @pewinternet @pewresearch


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