Large Majority of Consumers Want Do Not Track Default

Do not trackA Microsoft-funded group called Consumer Action has released new survey findings (n= 1,000 US adults) that show consumers do not want to be tracked or have their data collected by online marketers — even if it’s a condition of receiving more relevant advertising.

This “do not track” finding comes despite the belief among an overwhelming majority of consumers that their personal data are being collected and that they’re being tracked and targeted online accordingly.

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The survey revealed some confusion and apparent contradictions regarding consumer notions about online data collection:

  • 49% incorrectly believe the law prohibits online data collection without their explicit permission
  • 55% agreed with the statement that tracking “was the price of being online”
  • 76% said that publishers/networks don’t expose or clarify what consumer data they’re collecting
  • 72% said they don’t think online companies truly care about privacy
  • 58% and 57% said they “read and understood”  browser and mobile privacy settings/policies respectively

Three-fourths of survey respondents either somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement there is “no harm” from tracking if the trade-off is “more relevant ads.”

Tracking data

All but 10% of respondents wanted “a way for people to limit when they are tracked online.” Fully, 95% said they wanted to control the specific data that collected about them online.

More significantly perhaps, 83% “do not track” as the default browser setting (provided they could turn tracking back on). And all but 4% said they wanted online companies to “respect” do not track.

Do not track support

What do you think of these findings? Do you think this survey definitively answers the question regarding whether consumers will trade personal information for more relevant ads (in the negative)?

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