A new report has revealed consumers would like to control the information that companies can learn about them online.
However most people do not understand how online tracking works.
The report published last week by the University of Pennsylvania analysed the results of a data privacy survey that included more than 2,000 adults in the United States. Very few of the respondents said they trusted the way online services handled their personal data.
The survey also tested people’s knowledge about how apps, websites and digital devices may amass and disclose information about people’s health, TV-viewing habits and doorbell camera videos. Although many understood how companies can track their emails and website visits, a majority seemed unaware that there are only limited federal protections for the kinds of personal data that online services can collect about consumers.
Only one person received an A grade, for correctly answering 16 of the questions. No one answered all of them correctly.
The survey results expose a stark knowledge gap among Americans as the Federal Trade Commission is about to curb online consumer tracking by companies — or, as regulators have termed it, “commercial surveillance.” And the report could bolster regulators’ agenda as it highlights weaknesses in a framework that has for decades served as the basis for online privacy regulation in the United States.
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