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Privacy & Data

Many See Privacy on Web As Big Issue, Survey Says

As arguments swirl over online privacy, a new survey indicates the issue is a dominant concern for Americans. 

More than 90 percent of respondents called online privacy a ”really” or ”somewhat” important issue, according to the survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted by TRUSTe, an organization that monitors the privacy practices of Web sites of companies like I.B.M., Yahoo and WebMD for a fee.

When asked if they were comfortable with behavioral targeting — when advertisers use a person’s browsing history or search history to decide which ad to show them — only 28 percent said they were …

Google, as it introduces its own behavioral advertising system, is allowing consumers to see what information it has gathered about them for advertising purposes. Given the concern over privacy in the TRUSTe survey, respondents’ knowledge of how to protect themselves online was relatively low, said Alissa Cooper, chief computer scientist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a civil liberties group that supports a national consumer privacy law.

”There does seem to be a disconnect in awareness,” Ms. Cooper said after reviewing the survey. Consumers may not know ”how much data is collected, and what the data is. There may be a high level of understanding but not enough to allow them to make an informed choice.”