What Californians Understand about Privacy Online
Author(s): Chris Jay Hoofnagle
Abstract: The volume of online commerce grows every year, in absence of a federal law setting baseline protections for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. Instead, information collected by websites are governed by individual privacy policies.
In order to gauge Californians’ understanding of privacy policies and default rules in the online environment, we commissioned a representative survey of adults in the State (N=991). The telephonic survey of Spanish and English speakers was conducted by the Survey Research Center of University of California, Berkeley.
A gulf exists between California consumers’ understanding of online rules and common business practices. For instance, Californians who shop online believe that privacy policies prohibit third-party information sharing. A majority of Californians believes that privacy policies create the right to require a website to delete personal information upon request, a general right to sue for damages, a right to be informed of security breaches, a right to assistance if identity theft occurs, and a right to access and correct data.
Keywords: Privacy, market, self-regulation, consumer protection, profiling, opt-in, opt-out