Report From Annenberg/UPenn: “Americans Don’t Understand What Companies Can Do With Their Personal Data — and That’s a Problem”
From the Annenberg School of Communications/U. of Pennsylvania:
In a new report, “Americans Can’t Consent to Companies’ Use of Their Data,” researchers asked a nationally representative group of more than 2,000 Americans to answer a set of questions about digital marketing policies and how companies can and should use their personal data. Their aim was to determine if current “informed consent” practices are working online.
They found that the great majority of Americans don’t understand the fundamentals of internet marketing practices and policies, and that many feel incapable of consenting to how companies use their data. As a result, the researchers say, Americans can’t truly give informed consent to digital data collection.
Fully 77% of those surveyed answered 9 or fewer questions correctly — a failing grade in a typical classroom. Only one person in the entire 2,000-person sample would have received an “A” on the test.
Nevertheless, the survey provided many insights into Americans’ digital knowledge — or lack thereof:
- Only around 1 in 3 Americans knows it is legal for an online store to charge people different prices depending on where they are located.
- More than 8 in 10 Americans believe, incorrectly, that the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) stops apps from selling data collected about app users’ health to marketers.
- Fewer than one in three Americans know that price-comparison travel sites such as Expedia or Orbitz are not obligated to display the lowest airline prices.
- Fewer than half of Americans know that Facebook’s user privacy settings allow users to limit some of the information about them shared with advertisers.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.