NEWS8 December 2014

Half of Americans ‘don't know what a privacy policy is’

News North America Privacy

US — 52% of Americans incorrectly believe that if a company has a privacy policy, it means it keeps confidential all information it collects on users, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.

A nationally representative survey of around 1,000 adult US internet users asked respondents to identify whether a statement concerning online privacy was true or false.

The statement read: “When a company posts a privacy policy, it ensures that the company keeps confidential all the information it collects on users.” 52% of respondents incorrectly answered that the statement was true. A privacy policy is simply a legal document that discloses how a customer’s data is managed and used.

In a summary of the findings, Pew referred to a similar lack of awareness made apparent in polling conducted over 10 years ago, stating that this supported the idea that “ordinary users don’t fully understand the scope of the data that is being collected on them”.

“Ultimately, this issue is likely to become even more contentious in the future as wearable devices, clothes, smart appliances, connected cars, and other elements of daily life become linked together,” the summary said. “Many experts have told Pew Research that they think privacy challenges will worsen as the Internet of Things expands, and that people will be increasingly enticed (if only grudgingly) to give up personal information in return for the conveniences afforded by digital technology.”