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Survey: Web users in two minds over privacy disclosure


AOL Extends Privacy Education Campaign to the UK

London. – Eight out of ten people claim they would not give away income details online, but nearly all do, according to a recent study conducted by AOL.

The study, which involved research, executive interviews and a nationwide survey of 1,000 online consumers, found Internet users claim to be very conscious about their privacy and guarded about their personal details. Some 84% said they would not give away income details online, however, 89 percent actually willingly did – without any pressure or persuasion.

The findings also showed the expectation of privacy problems involving fraud is greater than the incidence of actual problems with 34% expecting credit card fraud, while only 11% having experienced it.

In addition, AOL’s research also showed that enhanced understanding about the opportunities and risks of online disclosure leads to lower levels of concern over privacy.

“Our research identified a significant gap between what people say and what they do when it comes to protecting sensitive information online,” said Jules Polonetsky, AOL’s Chief Privacy Officer.

The findings coincide with the UK launch of AOL’s privacy education campaign ( The campaign features an animated penguin to explain behaviourally targeted advertising for surfers of the Web. Through ongoing educational campaigns, AOL’s goal is to provide consumers with information about online advertising practices, the choice to opt-out and consumers’ ability to control their online experience.

Polonetsky further explained, “personalising content and delivering relevant advertising online will only succeed for consumers and for advertisers if it is done in a trustworthy and transparent manner. In addition, business and government will need to offer approaches that recognise that at certain times personalisation and data use will be welcomed, and in other cases, users will demand limits on the use of their data.”

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said now that data protection and privacy have come of age it would be dangerous to ignore the opinions and attitudes of consumers even though there are sharp differences between what people say and how they behave.

“By taking a practical, down-to-earth approach to data protection and privacy, we can simplify good practice for the majority of organisations who seek to handle personal information well. If organisations fail to meet their data protection obligations they not only risk enforcement action by the ICO, they also risk losing the trust of their customers. However, it is equally important for individuals to be aware of their information rights and to take steps to protect their own privacy. A good starting point is the ICO’s extensive data protection guidance for organisations and individuals which can be found at” Thomas said.


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