Here are a few noteworthy data points:
- 86% of US internet users “have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints”
- 59% believe it’s not possible to be completely anonymous online
- 68% said that current laws are not strong enough to protect online privacy
- 36% reported not using a website because it required their real name/identity (see Facebook)
Below are a few additional findings worth stressing: 70% of users wanted to “authorize” who accessed their location information. The US FTC and California consider geolocation to be a form of sensitive personal information worthy of greater protection. However, thus far, US courts in their various decisions have mostly considered it to be public information (e.g., movements being tracked).
The second graphic below shows that people online are trying to avoid “hackers and criminals,” acquaintances, family members and employers. Only a very small percentage are trying to avoid “the government” or “law enforcement.” It’s worth noting that this survey was conducted after the NSA revelations.
Nearly 30% of respondents, which are supposed to be a representative sample of the US adult online population, said they were actively trying to avoid “advertisers.” Another group, which may overlap somewhat with the advertiser-avoiders were trying to avoid “companies who ran the website you visited.”
When it comes to location data people don’t seem to be saying “I don’t want anyone to know where I am.” Instead they appear to be saying, “I want to control who knows where I am.” Thus opt-in location-based marketing would, I infer, be acceptable to this group. Indeed, when users are presented with tangible rewards or benefits for sharing location they generally agree.
You can access the full survey results here. But what do you think of these findings and their implications for online and mobile marketing?